Update: Anne Marie Miller’s Response on the Aderholt Indictment plus SBC and IMB Responses

On Mr. Aderholt’s Indictment:

It has been a while since I’ve updated what’s been happening with Mr. Aderholt on my site. On December 19, the Tarrant County, Texas, Grand Jury met and indicted Mr. Aderholt on four felony charges: three charges of indecency with a child under 17 and one charge of sexual assault of a child under 17. I do feel the need to clarify the word “assault” here. Never was my abuse violent. He did not rape me, as the name suggests. I’ve never been comfortable with explaining the details publicly, so if you’re inclined to go and look at Texas Penal Code and find out what that means, by all means, it’s a free internet. But one thing I’ve always wanted is transparency and to speak with clarity when it comes to the things I am sure of and disclosure when there is confusion.

His next date is a court date on January 15 where he will enter his plea. We expect it will go all the way to a trial setting. Having to share the details of this trauma publicly gives me a lot of anxiety, but if Mr. Aderholt continues to deny the facts of what happened and maintains his innocence, that’s what will have to happen. I have full confidence in the Tarrant County DA’s office and there already has been so much evidence presented. Not only did the IMB conclude in 2007 that abuse occurred (though they called it an inappropriate relationship and not abuse) after I reported it to authorities in Spring 2018, they conducted a several-months-long investigation that concluded there was enough evidence for his arrest. From his arrest, the DA’s office further gathered evidence and presented it to a grand jury. I was told that because of my age at the time (16) many grand jurors think that’s close enough to 17, which is the age of consent in Texas, so I was given a 50/50 probability for his indictment. When he was indicted for more charges than he was originally arrested for, it was encouraging to know these folks saw the full extent of what happened and realized the gravity of the crime.

On my personal response:

The range of emotions after his indictment are all over the place. I’m happy because the truth is being heard and actionable steps are being taken by the criminal justice system. I’m grieved because of the messages I’ve received from people who know Mr. Aderholt that also range from denial to confirmation; some say it’s something he could never do and others say they weren’t surprised. I cannot imagine what his family is going through and from the day I knew he and his wife married as he told me they would, I hurt for her. I regret not emailing her back in 1997 because maybe all of this could have been prevented. His kids are old enough to understand and the consequences for what he’s done can realistically separate his family for a long time. Knowing the love I have for my daughter and how being away at work stirs in me a longing and a missing like no other, how much uncertainty and anxiety they must be experiencing. I grieve for them the most; I am not the only victim. I pray for them, and Mark, daily. I’ve also felt incredibly supported online and with friends and most family.

On the International Mission Board (IMB)’s response:

The IMB (who knew about the abuse in 2007 and failed to report it) has hired a law firm to conduct an investigation into how they handle misconduct. It seems to be entirely a self-serving action rather than a victim-serving one. They want to keep their “staff and their families safe”” overseas and no mention is made about past victims or the responsibility to protect the very vulnerable with whom they work. Someone from the firm contacted me but it was before the Grand Jury hearing so I wasn’t at liberty to speak with them. I am now, and will keep you posted on those conversations.

On the SBC’s response:

As far as the SBC response, after many emails asking for specific help-help outside of summits and study groups-I received this email back from JD Greear.*

Dear Anne,

Thanks so much for reaching out. I continue to grieve over all that has happened, to the degree that I find myself unsure what to do or say other than to pray and to do everything in my power to get this right. I do understand what you are saying: committees and study groups by themselves are not enough. And I agree. As you know, my authority as Southern Baptist Convention President is limited, but we must insist churches (and institutions) act in ways that help survivors and deter predators, and do all we can to educate them with the means to do so. That is the purpose of my initiatives in this. My heart’s desire is to do everything I can to explore tangible action steps that can make a difference from this point forward, and that’s what I am doing. I know that this was a big week, and I continue to pray for healing and justice for you. –JDG

I replied with some very specific struggles (a very absent faith and hope and trusting God in a spiritual desert) and specific suggestions: connecting me with some pastors or counseling resources in DFW for instance (it’s been over 3 years since I’ve been to church). Surely his “limited authority” as president of the SBC” can connect me to a few local places for help. I have not heard back and it’s been over two weeks.**

On the reality of it all

I am learning to put no hope into institutional or organizational entities. I will never, ever see the help or receive the support I need from the people who should be and are held accountable for this. Instead, I continue to take refuge in my little family, in school, and at work and knowing that I will be able to serve families of trauma victims so they will not have to live with decades of trauma hiding in their bodies. I apply to upper-level nursing school this summer and I’m so excited.

On the book, Healing Together: A Guide for Helping Sexual Abuse Survivors

Also, with the holidays, moving into a new house, and starting a new job, I haven’t had an iota of time to work on “Healing Together” or to update the Patreon page for that matter.

BUT HERE’S A BIG THING: I have decided to make Healing Together: A Guide for Helping Sexual Abuse Survivors COMPLETELY FREE as an eBook/PDF and make the paperback as inexpensive as I can using Amazon’s Createspace which I used to self publish the reprint of Mad Church Disease, Beating Burnout, and my Advent book.

I don’t want people to think I am capitalizing on my–or anybody else’s–trauma. I don’t want to make money on a book. I don’t want money to get in the way of people finding help and healing. The whole “Christian” publishing industry burned me out so badly with its expectations and that is why I bought back my last book contract. I didn’t want to write, and I had nothing to say to the world through that medium.

If you do pray, please pray for me as I write and that book and hopefully, through Patreon, we can get our very basic costs of doing business (web hosting, design, editing) taken care of. ANY and ALL extra funds will go to help SURVIVORS. PERIOD. All of it. Tim’s and my jobs provide our income. This project is not about padding the Millers’ bank account. I’ll talk more about Patreon next time I write and share how you can contribute to the basic business costs of me self-publishing this book (and how to give more if you want to give to survivor funds).

As always, thank you for your love, prayers, faith, and kind words. They matter. And you matter too.

Anne Miller

*&**: I’ve updated this to reflect an email I received this evening after posting this. In my original post, I made a snarky comment that Mr. Greear only emailed me after the Star-Telegram wrote about the absence of communication from the SBC. In my initial response to him, I told him that I found the timing curious but would choose to believe the best. My earlier post did not reflect me “believing the best” and for that I apologize. I was wrong. Since posting this, I received another email from Mr. Greear following up with me on tangible way he is trying to support me/us. I am grateful for his reply.

It’s Never Too Late to Begin!

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids & Sex is Here!

5-things-every-parent-anne-miller

Yesterday was a big day. 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex is finally here! Yes, talking to your kids about sex and porn and social media can be awkward, but it is SO necessary.

5ThingsMed

While we’re waiting, our kids are getting their questions answered and their perceptions of sex and sexuality formed elsewhere–through online searches and a daily diet of mainstream and social media that may shock you. With 5 Things, it’s my goal to educate, encourage and equip parents (and youth leaders, friends, family, anyone, really!) to have these meaningful conversations that will forever change the landscape of the messed up messages the media communicates to us.

  • order-nowEquips parents to take control of the narrative their children are receiving about sex.
  • Shows how to have meaningful and age-appropriate conversations about sex, pornography, and sexual abuse.
  • Helps parents how to keep the lines of communication open so kids will trust their parents with their fears, struggles and questions.

It’s never too late to begin. You can purchase 5 Things today –paperback or eBook–from the following bookstores:

In my online webstore: $11.25*
*Use the code “HELP” when you check out and the book will cost $11.25

Amazon.com: Currently $12.50

Baker Books: Currently $15.99

Books-A-Million: Currently $15.99

Barnes & Noble: Currently 12.37

Family Christian: Currently $15.99

Overstock.com: Currently $12.41

Walmart.com: Currently $12.63

Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About: Whisper

Anonymous Sharing, Chatting and Location-Based Feeds

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids & Sex Ships Next Week!

Get it in your mailbox (or on your e-reading device) next Tuesday, May 17!

Pre-order my book Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex

pre-order-freebie-5-things-every-parent-needs-to-know

Don’t forget to grab your copy before the release date (May 17!), and get some great freebies that will help you talk to your kids about sex.


Today’s App Every Parent Needs to Know About (full series here) is Whisper. It’s made the rounds in media and has received some bad press–maybe rightfully so, as it’s another app that allows users to anonymously post pictures, secrets, confessions, questions, and chat privately with others and share their location or only look at Whispers that are nearby.


parents-apps-whisper

Whisper’s Purpose (according to their app store description):

“Ever wondered what the people around you are really thinking? Whisper is an online community where millions of people around the world share real thoughts, trade advice, and get the inside scoop. See what people are thinking at the places you visit, like your school. Chat directly with other Whisper users – it’s a great way to meet new people. Join the 30 million+ people who use Whisper every month; it will change the way you see the world.”


Terms of Service/App Rating: Whisper is rated 17+ in the app store for:

  • Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes
  • Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References

In the Terms of Service, Whisper is very clear that the intended audience is 17+. Even still, their messaging is confusing as they say in the fine print, “If you are between 13 and 18 years of age, you may use the services provided with the consent and under the supervision of a parent or guardian, who are obliged to abide by these terms,” and the age you can claim within the app begins at the age of 15.

So, I’m guessing they really don’t care how old you are. Parents, it’s your responsibility to limit which apps your kids download (or have access to download). On that note, Whisper offers parents advice on how to enable restrictions on their kid’s phones and tablets.

They lay out their community guidelines simply:

Do not be Mean, Do not be Gross, and Do Not Use Whisper to Break the Law: Do not defame, impersonate or abuse another person. Do not share personal information of another person, including address or telephone number. Hate speech directed at any group of people will be removed from our services. This includes hate speech on gender, sexuality, race, religion and ethnicity. You can use your own photos on Whisper, but do not allow images that are filthy, violent or pornographic. Do not use Whisper to promote illegal behavior like selling controlled substances or solicitations. If you solicit minors for any reason or post sexually explicit images of minors, we will suspend your account and report it to the National Center for Missing Children. Do not make threats of violence. We may share your IP, location and other information with the police if we think you are a threat to the safety of others. We are required by law to disclose your information if we receive a subpoena, court order or warrant.”


Privacy & Parental Controls: Whisper keeps the standard amount of information that other apps keep: cookies and pixels (that track your use), geolocation (if location services are on) and does provide that information to advertisers and some third parties.

Some notable comments, mostly in regard to Whisper’s location services–as you can see from my screenshots, it tells the user approximately how far another user is away in distance. If kids use the service and reveal any personal information (name, a photo of something outside that’s identifiable), they can be easily found.


whisper-8The Good:

  • Compared to other apps, Whisper had the least amount of sexually explicit content. It’s not void of it completely, but there was a considerable difference.
  • You can turn location services off, but it limits how the app functions.
  • If someone is mature enough and knows how to process the mature topics or photos that do populate feeds, it could be a great place to encourage people who are going through tough times.
  • Reporting posts, users, and blocking chats is quick and easy.
  • Users can enable a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) filter which filters out some mature content.
  • Within the app settings, users can visit “Your Voice” which shares videos from users who struggle with various issues, sorted by issue (mental health, sexuality, suicide, etc.). Users can also share their own stories, which are moderated before being shared.

The Bad: 

  • Content is user-generated, which means even if something is reported, users can view inappropriate content simply by using the app.
  • After you type in your Whisper, based on what words you use, the app suggests “related” photos to accompany it. Some of these photos are hard PG13 or rated R.
  • Location features allow for users to be easily identified if not cautious.whisper-11
  • The “My School” section is has only basic protection: anyone on campus (even across the street) from a school can log in to that school’s feed and communicate with minors.
  • Although the TOS says feeds are actively monitored for suicidal/self-harming/eating disorders/threatening posts, it’s easy to find and suggested images from the app support inappropriate messages.
  • One report I read online said users who post suicidal/self-harming/eating disordered posts are directed to help. I posted about “wishing to be dead” and “starving myself” and was not redirected to help. Instead, I was shown similar confessions from others. (see side photo)
  • Users can also add a personal PIN so that if the app is accessed, the feeds remain but personal chats and Whispers are not shown unless the PIN is entered, which can prevent parents from checking the app.
  • In my experience, as a 15-17 year old female persona in the app, in less than 24 hours, I was by a male adult in my city where I live and what school I go to.


What you need to know: 

One of the most concerning features of Whisper is the location-sharing element, and within that, the ease in which one can sign into a local school’s “private” feed. Unlike After School, where your ID has to be verified through Facebook and/or a state-issued ID, anyone can get on or really close to a school campus and have access to that feed without having to do anything else. 

Like I did in After School, I chose a nearby school. To verify myself, I drove to the parking lot of the school and logged in. I pretended to be a 15-17 year old high school student and easily started chatting with other high school students, both receiving chats and sending them (I sent mine as anonymous encouragements, the ones I received were a mix of positive and sexual).

Because there can be such a high emotional element to sharing secrets or confessions, predators can engage in conversations under the guise of being a peer and in worst-case situations, can schedule a meet up  to “help” their new friend out.


Conversation Starter:

I have to admit: Whisper was not as “bad” as I’ve heard. Maybe people in Iowa don’t post a lot of explicit content (or maybe users of the Whisper app compared to the After School app are toned down.) While it wasn’t completely teen-friendly, more mature teens could use this app with extreme caution and could be a source of encouragement for others.

Chances are, if you have a junior high or high school student, they know about the Whisper app. What are your child’s app settings? Are they restricted from downloading certain content (like 12+ or 17+)?

  • Have you heard of the app Whisper? Tell me about it.
  • Have you ever shared something on Whisper or read someone else’s secret?
  • Has someone you don’t know tried to start a private chat with you? What did/would you do?
  • What would you do if you saw on Whisper that someone wanted to hurt themselves or others?
  • What are some ways you might accidentally share your location? (i.e., geographically identifying pictures, using photos in public places that other can see)

5ThingsMedEducating, Encouraging and Equipping Parents

Nervous about talking to your kids about sex? Anxiety over having “the talk” often means we avoid it as long as we can. While we’re waiting, our kids are getting their questions answered and their perceptions of sex and sexuality formed elsewhere–through online searches and a daily diet of mainstream and social media that may shock you. In this immensely practical and well-researched book, Anne Marie Miller:

  • Equips parents to take control of the narrative their children are receiving about sex.order-now
  • Shows how to have meaningful and age-appropriate conversations about sex, pornography, and sexual abuse.
  • Helps parents keep the lines of communication open so kids will trust them with fears, struggles and questions.

Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About: Instagram

Sharing Photos and Videos (And Just a Few Clicks Away from Porn)

Quick Reminder: Have you pre-ordered my book Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex?

pre-order-freebie-5-things-every-parent-needs-to-know

Don’t forget to grab your copy before the release date, and get some great freebies that will help you talk to your kids about sex.


apps-every-parent-needs-to-know-instagramToday’s App Every Parent Needs to Know About (full series here) is one of the most popular social media apps around. More than likely, you have it on your phone. More than likely, your kids might too.

It’s the photo (and video) sharing app: Instagram.

Instagram is one of the classic apps, making its debut in late 2010. They’ve managed to stay relevant and widely-used. Unlike my other social media channels (Twitter, Facebook), I follow a small group of people–mostly friends and family–and a few celebrities or organizations. I engage with the app most days, and use it to keep track of what’s happening in the lives of friends.

Because Instagram’s content is user-generated, I knew there had to be sexual content on it, but it rarely appears to me due to Instagram’s algorithms, which shows you content you’d likely enjoy the most (so in my “What’s Popular” feed, there are lots of pregnancy posts, puppies, and food/drink pictures…which is pretty customized to the things with which I naturally interact).

However, Instagram’s innocence disappears with only a few clicks.

Instagram’s Purpose (according to their app description):

“Instagram is a simple way to capture and share the world’s moments. Transform your everyday photos and videos into works of art and share them with your family and friends.”


Terms of Service/App Rating: Instagram is rated 12+ in the app store for:

  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
  • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
  • Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
  • Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes

In their Terms of Service, Instagram is very clear that the intended audience is 13+ and they also state:

You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content; You must not defame, stalk, bully, abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate people or entities and you must not post private or confidential information via the Service, including, without limitation, your or any other person’s credit card information, social security or alternate national identity numbers, non-public phone numbers or non-public email addresses.”


Privacy: Instagram keeps the standard amount of information that other apps keep: cookies and pixels (that track your use), geolocation (if location services are on) and does provide that information to advertisers and some third parties. As far as parental controls and user privacy, there are only a few options:

  1. Don’t post your location if you don’t want people to know where you are.
  2. Keep your account “private,” which removes any public access.

Instagram says,

“Any information or content that you voluntarily disclose for posting to the Service, such as User Content, becomes available to the public, as controlled by any applicable privacy settings that you set. To change your privacy settings on the Service, please change your profile setting. Once you have shared User Content or made it public, that User Content may be re-shared by others.”


instagram-5

Reporting is Easy

The Good:

  • If a user doesn’t wander outside his or her feed or click any hashtags, the probability of viewing something unwanted or inappropriate is relatively low (unless someone a user follows directly posts something inappropriate or is hacked).
  • Users can keep their accounts private, which blocks any public searches and sharing of information.
  • Instagram automatically blocks obvious inappropriate hashtags–for example, if you searched for #sex, nothing will show up.
  • Instagram makes reporting and blocking posts or accounts that violate their Terms of Service really easy, just by clicking “Report” and choosing the reason.

The Bad: Anything outside of a user’s feed is only a few clicks away from trouble.

  • Accounts who post inappropriate material often use common, innocent hashtags to have their posts show up to larger audiences, i.e, you can click on the hashtag #dogsofinstagram because you want to see more pictures of dogs, but an explicit photo or video will find its way into that feed because the user tagged it #dogsofinstagram.
  • Curious users who want to find inappropriate material don’t have to try very hard. Whereas #sex may not have any results, simply turn the word into #sexy and you have millions of posts, most which violate Instagram’s terms, right at your fingertips.
  • It’s also super popular to follow celebrities on Instagram. I don’t want to pick on Kim Kardashian, but she’s always made infamous headlines for posting some mostly-nude photos (which, based on Instagram’s TOS, I do not understand why they are still up–see example below).
  • Celebrities can post explicit material, and project what someone is “supposed” to look like (skinny, sexy, wearing certain items, not wearing certain items; essentially they can be negative role models for body image and online behaviors).
  • Users can tag their location and publicize where they live, go to school, work, etc.

What you need to know: 

Although Instagram has a straight forward TOS and privacy settings, beyond that, there are no parental controls available. It would be awesome if they could implement a rating system for users and, at the very least, try to have more control over who sees what. Public users are also allowed to send private messages to other public users, unless they are blocked. And even if a user is set as “private,” someone can always take a screen shot of his or her post and repost it publicly. You wouldn’t believe the number of phone numbers I see on junior high and high school students’ private posts that have been shared. Also, Instagram allows a user to clear searches, so hiding the history is easy to do.


Conversation Starter:

It’s likely you and members of your family use Instagram. I realize that by sharing some of these “shortcuts,” it may open pandora’s box, so to speak. Maybe your kids would never think about searching for #sexy on Instagram. Then again, maybe they already have, or have clicked an innocent hashtag, or have been followed by an explicit account.

The real question here is do you know?

Instead of sheltering, open up to your kids and let them know you’re sharing this because you care about what they see online. You don’t have to give them an instruction book for how to find content they shouldn’t see, but by asking them questions, you can move forward in this conversation in a productive and appropriate way.

  • Do you use Instagram? What do you like about it? What don’t you like?
  • Is your account set to private? Who follows you? Who do you follow? Why?
  • What are some funny things you’ve seen on Instagram? Have you ever seen anything inappropriate? (Note: if they answer yes, don’t freak out. Engage them!)
  • Do you know how to report things that shouldn’t be on Instagram?
  • Tell me what you know about hashtags…how do people use them?

Educating, Encouraging and Equipping Parents

5ThingsMedNervous about talking to your kids about sex? Anxiety over having “the talk” often means we avoid it as long as we can. While we’re waiting, our kids are getting their questions answered and their perceptions of sex and sexuality formed elsewhere–through online searches and a daily diet of mainstream and social media that may shock you. In this immensely practical and well-researched book, Anne Marie Miller:

  • order-nowEquips parents to take control of the narrative their children are receiving about sex.
  • Shows how to have meaningful and age-appropriate conversations about sex, pornography, and sexual abuse.
  • Helps parents how to keep the lines of communication open so kids will trust their parents with their fears, struggles and questions.

 

Tons of Freebies!

Have you pre-ordered Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex yet? Have you been thinking about it? 

Oh, happy day! It’s time to get rewarded for your eagerness!

pre-order-freebie-5-things-every-parent-needs-to-know

The book ships on May 17–just a couple weeks from now. And to thank you for pre-ordering the book, I made up a nice little package of freebies for you. Now, I wish I could throw in some cookies or a new puppy, but unfortunately, neither of those ship really well. Instead, if you pre-order Five Things by May 17, email me a copy of your receipt or order confirmation and I’ll send you:

  • A 35 minute audio file of a Q&A my husband Tim and I did with parents that covers their questions on sex, porn and social media.
  • A 30 page eBook containing everything from my series on Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About so you can easily reference information and share it with your friends. You’ll also get an updated file every time we add a new app!
  • A free trial of the Internet accountability and filtering software, Covenant Eyes. Sign up using the code I’ll give you and you’ll get to try this amazing software (which Tim and I use on all our devices) for free!

How do you get all this? It’s super easy!

  1. Pre-order the book (you can find all the retailers at 5ThingsBook.com – Bonus: You can get the first 30 pages of the book there for free)
  2. Send me the copy of your receipt or confirmation number to freebies@annemariemiller.com
  3. I’ll send you a link to download all these wonderful freebies to help your family begin redeeming the conversation about sex!

Now, I can’t make any promises, but it’s been the norm in my experience that people who pre-order books actually receive them before their official ship date. I have no control over this, but you may even get the book a bit earlier than if you waited until it officially released.

Questions? Comments? Just shoot me an email and let me know!

Lots of love,

Anne Marie