Abuse victims’ advocates turn to the Internet —Emily Wax
When this article came out, I was writing my previous post about my actual current religious beliefs. My post also touched on the dangers of reparative “therapy” generally; it all by itself is a repugnant, harmful practice, denounced by the American Psychiatric, Psychological and Medical Associations.
The article, however, alludes to specific abuse I and others have experienced at JONAH. I had gone to JONAH, desperate to change my orientation. I attended JONAH's "counseling" sessions for over a year and a half. During my last session with my life coach, who described himself as "ex-gay", I was asked to remove my clothing and touch myself as part of process that I needed to undergo in order to "heal myself of my homosexuality". He instructed me to step out of my comfort zone and remove my clothing in front of mirror with him in a locked room. He insisted that this was the "work" that I needed to do in order to change — an unfortunate and blatant lie told to already vulnerable patients. JONAH still operates today with the very same life coach seeing clients regularly.
I appreciate that mainstream media has brought some light to JONAH and its sexual abuse, but I am disappointed by the lack of detail. Because of lack of awareness, I actually turned to the Internet before I began blogging. Over two years ago, Ben Unger and I discussed in a video what happened to us at JONAH in the hands of Alan Downing:
I hope the Washington Post will consider doing a follow up piece exposing what going through "ex-gay" therapy was actually like for me and many other young people who come from both religious and secular backgrounds.