Mercy Ministries

Mercy Ministries is purported to be "a residential treatment program for young women who struggle with life controlling issues such as eating disorders, depression, the effects of abuse, unplanned pregnancy, suicide and self harm".  But since they have become more savvy as to stark liabilities, they have reworded their blurb.

In March 2008, a few former residents of Mercy Ministries Australia spoke out about their experiences and an article was published (followed by many more) exposing Mercy as "an abusive and cult-like organisation".  (A fantastic source of coverage can be found here and here).

My pieces on the subject of Mercy Ministries are as follows: -
  • No rust
    On overcoming denial and coming to terms with the truth of my Mercy Ministries experience.
  • Mercygate
    Discovering the first batch of my grossly incomplete client file from Mercy Ministries.
  • Poker face
    That awkward moment when I interact with former staff and other former residents of Mercy Ministries.
  • Mirrors
    On encountering the second, still incomplete batch of my client Mercy Ministries file.
  • The language of Mercy
    A precursor piece on loaded language at Mercy Ministries.
  • Mercy appropriate
    Part 1: Exploring the role of buzz words, blanket terms and codes that "change like shifting shadows", just like the rules.  
  • "You are unwilling to change"
    Part 2: Understanding the oppression and control behind the often baseless accusations frequently encountered by staff at Mercy Ministries.
  • "Touch not the Lord's anointed": The doctrine of immunity
    Part 3: My best attempt yet at breaking down the enmeshment of Mercy Ministries staff into God, at the very core of the power and control dynamic that is so prevalent at Mercy Ministries.
  • Learning to boil water at Mercy Ministries
    How far do Mercy Ministries go to compromise girls' sense of safety and the truth for potential donations?  This happened in the Sydney home, but since I published this, a number of US girls have heavily identified with this experience.
  • My prayer for Nancy Alcorn
    Despite the polarising mindset among those in the Mercy community, I don't hate Nancy Alcorn nor do I take pleasure in her demise.  This is my heartfelt prayer for Nancy Alcorn.
As at July 2013:
  • Various Mercy Ministries entities and the former directors of same were investigated and penalised by the ACCC after being found guilty of "false and misleading advertising".  They were ordered to send a written apology to the young women who were forced to sign over their Centrelink payments, and compensated with fraction of the money handed over for a service that was wrongly advertised as a free with access to various medical professionals.  In October 2009, Mercy Ministries Australia announced that they were closing altogether after the Queensland home had already been shut down and the Sydney home was closed for renovations.
  • In early 2010, some former clients (including myself) who had requested our client files under Freedom of Information (FoI) received a curious letter from Mercy Ministries advising us that our records were going to be destroyed as FoI did not apply to them.  Within a week, the NSW Privacy Commissioner intervened due to breach of privacy legislation in which they were required to store our records for 25 years as well as release them to us in accordance with our request. 
  • Around a couple of months later, after a second lawyer took instructions from Mercy Ministries in the United States, we received grossly incomplete files with a whole range of items missing. Mercy Ministries denied that certain documents even existed, despite the number of times we were lectured by staff about their daily reports emailed to the founder Nancy Alcorn in the US.
  • In late 2010, we each received a further second batch of documents.  Several documents that I have personally witnessed, signed or even written myself remain missing from my file, and this is also the case for all but one former client who I was in contact with throughout this process.
  • Around the time the files were released, some Australian women began exploring their legal options, but due to the ongoing personal struggles of many together with a bunch of expired statutory time frames and the emotionally taxing legal process involved, no one pursued in the end, despite there being an ample case which was assessed by lawyers and expert witnesses
  • An increasing number of former residents of Mercy Ministries of America continue to come forward with similar stories of spiritual abuse, medical neglect and overall negligence.  Even several years on, and having seen and experienced the darkest side of this organisation, I continue to be shocked by what is still happening to countless vulnerable young women.  Perhaps there is still some gullible part of me that still believes the best.  However, I have come to believe that what happened in Australia was not simply a case of "one bad egg", but rather, an apple that did not fall far from a very sick tree.  No matter how acquainted I already am with the evils of this organisation, I am still shocked by new stories.
Further updates will be added in due course.

In my blog, I share my personal experience of having been a resident in the Sydney home for 12 months, coming to terms with that experience, and also write pieces inspired by what is happening with Mercy Ministries currently.  I write as and when I feel particularly inspired to.

For some reason, I still feel really sorry for all who had some part in what happened at the Australian homes as well as the revictimising of those who spoke out in their responses that followed.  I don't hate any of them nor do I wish harm on them.  But I have ceased holding on to obligations to protect them from accountability or taking responsibility for the consequences they might face as a result.

My wish is for claims about Mercy Ministries to be exposed so that what is true can come into the light, and can be proven for all to see - the good, the bad and the ugly.  If this were to happen, girls who are considering going into their care will be able to make a more accurately informed decision.
Consequences that may result from exposure or accountability are not the problem of the one exposing them or holding them accountable.  It is not an attack.  It is not demons controlling bitter girls to cause trouble.  It is the truth being brought into the light.
 
If you would like more information, check out the Mercy Survivors website which has an archive of news articles, investigations into Mercy Ministries attempts at censorship and underhanded marketing, and a bunch of survivor blog pieces.  There is also an extensive blog roll.

5 comments:

  1. Hey Sarah,
    thought I'd give you another one. This one is a podcast that you might not know about it was done by Cameron Reilly, he interveiwed a girl who was in one of the Australian homes. She goes by the pseudonym "Sarah Mac"... Here is the link for it: http://gdayworld.thepodcastnetwork.com/2008/10/21/gday-world-352-sarah-macs-mercy-ministries-experience/

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  2. Dear Sarah,
    I have left one of the Mercy homes and am looking for support from others with similar ordeals. Even though we came from different homes I can really relate to parts of your story. Especially the language of Mercy and how you were treated. Thanks for bringing this to the light and sharing about what happened with you. Hope we can be in touch.

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  3. Hello :-)

    Thanks for the feedback and glad to help.

    I would love to be in touch! My email address is sarahscollage@rocketmail.com

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  4. Hello :-)

    Thanks for the feedback and glad to help.

    I would love to be in touch! My email address is sarahscollage@rocketmail.com

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  5. Hi Sarah. Thanks for your site to shed light on the real truth about mercy. I was in the St. Louis home for 9 months and can relate with everything you said. I want to let you know that your link to Mercy Survivors is all in Chinese. Not sure if you were aware of that. There are also some links on your page where the linked page has been removed. I'm not sure about the location you went to, but we also had to go to church 4-5 times a week and along with praise and worship and listening to christian speakers, we had bible study twice a day as well. We were not allowed to watch tv, read magazines, the newspaper or any books that weren't christian. I'm struggling even more after leaving mercy 11 years ago! Wow, I can't believe it's been that long. I still have nightmares about that place. Have had a few exorcisms done on me, was reprimanded for not speaking in tongues, and every problem, whether minor or major, were all treated with prayer. I used to go to church regularly before mercy but now it's a turn off. I don't view Christian's the same anymore, I have more trust issues, more anxiety, and a lot more problems in general since leaving mercy. I thought I was going to get better like they promised. They did the complete opposite and made me much worse. 11 years after I left and I'm still trying to put the pieces back together. I don't wish Nancy or the mercy staff any harm or ill will, I just wish they would start being honest so there won't be any more girls getting hurt. Mercy is not free either. Yeah, it's free as far as "treatment" but I had to give them $200.00 a month for "my expenses". In 9 months, that's $1800.00. A lot cheaper than actual treatment centers, yes. But free? No. They even talked us into donating while we were there! This is already really long, but I'd like to get a chance to talk to you more. Do you have another way I can contact you? It's nice to talk to someone who's been through the same thing and/or relate. Thanks so much for posting this, and I hope we can chat soon. Thanks!

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