In late 2004, not long after I had turned 18 and started working at IHOP, an event occurred that continues to affect me to this day. I had only been at IHOP for a few months when I was invited to a home group. During this time, I thought I had a spiritual experience and was eager to discuss it with the group leader. This individual was not the son of a boxer. One evening, while I was in the Prayer Room, the leader came to me. I expressed my desire to share the developments in my spiritual life. He seemed interested and suggested we talk more about it. However, he noted that the Prayer Room wasn't the right place for such a conversation and invited me to his house instead. Agreeing to his proposal, we left for his residence, located in the adjacent apartments known at the time as Hernhut. Upon entering the apartment, I immediately noticed a strong fish odor. The leader explained he had cooked fish earlier. The atmosphere quickly became unusual and uncomfortable. He mentioned his roommate was in the bathroom, pointing towards a door. Then, he asked about my weight. When I responded that I weighed 150 pounds, he expressed disbelief. To my surprise, he lifted me over his shoulders and then set me down again. This action felt awkward and inappropriate, especially since I had come there to discuss spiritual matters, and I hardly knew him. Next, he asked if I liked wrestling, specifically referring to WWF/WWE. I didn’t, but he knew I had watched it with a friend who was a fan. He offered to show me a wrestling move, and I hesitantly agreed. He then came up behind me, put his arm around my throat in a choker hold, and brought me to the ground. He wasn't choking me to the point of asphyxiation, but it was still alarming and forceful. I realized with dread that there was no roommate – I suspected he had lied about this to prevent me from calling for help. During this moment, I experienced a sense of disconnection and shock. Despite no removal of clothing or penetration, the man, significantly larger than me, proceeded to assault me, humping me through his clothes until climax. I was in a state of frozen terror, mentally and physically immobilized, feeling as though I was wrapped in heavy chains. My primary focus was on how to survive the ordeal without showing my fear. After the incident, he left for the bathroom, and I managed to sit up on the floor, contemplating if I could escape before he could stop me. However, he returned and instructed me to follow him. As we left the apartment, I felt an urge to run away, but the situation seemed too controlled and planned, making me doubt my ability to safely escape. We then got into his car, and he mentioned needing to make a quick stop. We drove a short distance, merely across the parking lot, to another apartment in the Hernhut complex. He expressed his desire for me to meet someone, and we ascended to the second floor of the building. He knocked on a door while standing behind me, an ominous positioning. The door was answered by a man wearing mascara, holding a knife, who then invited us inside. A wave of fear washed over me, as I thought I might be subjected to further harm or even killed in this new setting. In the living room, I noticed magazines on the table featuring stylish men. Somehow I knew I was not the first person to be brought here under such circumstances. I felt death was in the room to my left and I felt they were deciding what to do with me. The man with the knife placed it on the table, heightening the threatening atmosphere. The leader then asked me to close my eyes and deliver a prophecy. Despite my efforts, I could not close my eyes, too consumed by fear. I tried to conceal my terror, but the leader made it evident that he was aware of how frightened I was. I noticed a sliding glass door across the room and contemplated trying to jump through the glass door. As a religious DVD played in the background, I fabricated a prophecy about a caterpillar and a butterfly, my mind solely focused on survival. I remained in the second apartment for approximately 45 minutes. During this time, the details of the conversation are largely a blur to me, but I distinctly remember the conversation and subsequent prayer was sexual in nature and manipulative. My state of mind was overwhelmed and disoriented, making it hard to recall the specifics of what transpired. My sole concentration was on survival and finding a way to escape, clinging to the hope of making it out of there alive. In an effort to extricate myself from the situation, I fabricated a story, telling them that I had informed my family I would be speaking with the group leader and needed to return to my aunt who had recently arrived for a visit. To my astonishment, he believed this story and mentioned he needed to go home to rest. He escorted me to his car and drove me a short distance back to IHOP. The moment I entered the doors of IHOP, I felt a profound sense of relief, as if an immense burden and the chains binding me had been lifted. I realized I was finally safe and free. Upon reaching safety, I immediately told my sister we had to leave. Once home, I broke down and shared the entire ordeal with her. She then contacted an IHOP leader she knew, who was out of town on preaching duties. He advised me to find solace in the Prayer Room and partake in communion, promising to address the issue upon his return in a few days. Following his advice, my sister drove me to the Prayer Room, where I went to the communion table, took the bread and juice, and sat down. To my dismay, the group leader was also there, seated right behind me. Although his presence was unsettling, being in the Prayer Room gave me a sense of safety. While working at IHOP, I approached my boss to request a few days off due to the distressing events. My boss, a man I respected for his kindness and firmness, and whom I saw as a devout man of God, insisted on a meeting to understand the reasons for my leave request. In this meeting, I disclosed everything that had happened to me. Following our conversation, he reached out to the IHOP leadership to discuss the situation. They assured him that the matter was being handled, which led to my return to work soon after. In the months that followed, I daily encountered the group leader at IHOP, as he worked in an adjacent department. This continued for months, during which time it seemed as though nothing was being done about the incident. He behaved as if nothing had occurred, appearing completely unaffected, while I was deeply troubled by his presence and the lack of resolution. Unable to bear the situation any longer, one evening, I drank some beer to gather the courage to confront him at IHOP. I drove there, found him on the coffee shop patio, and, in a state of emotional turmoil, I shouted and expressed my ongoing distress, accusing him of causing me nightly nightmares. I then quickly left the scene in my truck. However, still unsettled, I drank more beer and decided to return to confront him directly. When I arrived, he was no longer on the patio. As I searched the parking lot, I suddenly heard screeching tires and narrowly avoided being hit by a speeding car. In a heightened state of alert, I grabbed a metal chair from the patio, intending to use it defensively against the vehicle. A voice from another distant vehicle made a threatening remark, and then they too sped away. Neither car contained the group leader. During this confrontation, everyone nearby had fled indoors, but I knew there were security cameras that might have captured the incident. I attempted to access the footage to corroborate my account, but IHOP was uncooperative. Frustrated with IHOP's inaction, my mother urged me to press charges against the group leader instead of waiting for IHOP to address the situation. The police arrived at his residence that evening. Remarkably, they found him hurriedly packing his belongings, ready to depart to the northeast, his origin. Had they been an hour later, he would have vanished. In court, a renowned, high-priced attorney represented him, declaring her unfamiliarity with such minor cases and the court's basic procedures, resulting in an extended delay of nearly a year. During this time, I, with the naivety and maturity akin to a typical 15-year-old, had to face him daily. He had penned a confessional letter, but it first reached an IHOP leader. His lawyer argued the letter's confidentiality under clergy privilege, ensuring it was not presented in court, even though I had a copy. Throughout the trial, I stood alone as the sole witness, while he remained silent, seated, offering no defense. The court result was I was mandated to attend a six-month program at Living Waters, a support group for individuals facing sexual issues. This period was emotionally challenging for me, and I felt a deep sense of injustice and was forced to weekly meet and talk with other individuals who were gay (I am not, but was very damaged from such individuals). The support from my organization, IHOP, was inadequate and inconsistent, leaving me feeling alienated and penalized. The representative from my side seemed relieved at the resolution, but failed to understand my emotional state. In contrast, the opposing party had ample support. Post-trial, I never encountered him again, and heard rumors that IHOP had employed his lawyer to manage the situation discreetly, though I couldn't confirm this. At that time, I still believed in the leadership's integrity, despite their mishandling of the situation, and I chose to continue my association with IHOP. Before the court proceedings, two unusual incidents occurred. It seemed like I was inadvertently attracting unwanted attention, likely due to my apparent naivety. On one occasion, a man from Canada approached me on the patio for a conversation. He suggested we take a walk while discussing Jesus. We strolled towards Hernhut, following the adjacent road. As night fell and we neared a wooded area, the conversation took an unsettling turn. He began discussing "raging homosexuality" and suggested we venture into the dark, secluded woods. I immediately declined and returned to IHOP, where I reported the incident to my supervisor. My boss, a genuinely good person, began to realize that I was becoming a target for troubling behavior. In the following months, I encountered another man who was married with a daughter. He invited me to his home for prayer. During the prayer, when I opened my eyes, I was shocked to find he had undressed. I left immediately and reported this incident to a top leader, who was aware of my previous experience with the leader. Surprisingly, the leader walked away laughing. About a year later, I joined an internship program, albeit two days late. On my arrival, I was questioned about my reasons for being there. I earnestly replied, "I want to know the truth." The response I received was disheartening: "You can't handle the truth." Three months into the internship, I was unjustly accused and expelled for allegedly speaking to a female colleague alone and exchanging notes, which was strictly against the rules. However, these accusations were baseless, as I had adhered to the guidelines and had not engaged in such activities. Following this, I returned to my apartment to pack my belongings. Fortunately, my boss, who had heard about the incident, spoke to the leader on my behalf, asserting his belief in my honesty. This series of events summarizes my journey with IHOP. While I cherish the prayer room and the genuine followers of Jesus, these experiences have left me deeply wounded and unsettled, untrusting of the justice system and the IHOP leadership. The truth is, I am not okay. I am mostly over it, but what remains is a dead version of myself, calloused, confused, scared, locked up and broken. More details: The leader who did it was not an official leader. However he was the leader of the IHOP fire parties which was a meeting of young people who met in various home-group like settings for worship in 2004-2005. He also worked at IHOP as the main kitchen assistant for years (I believe). He continued to work at IHOP afterwards, for i think a year, (its been so long ago)... and that entire time I worked as a maintenance leader for years. The back wall of the coffeeshop is adjacent to the kitchen. I saw him every day for months, at the coffeeshop, kitchen, patio, entries, hallways and prayerroom. No action was taken and all leaders were aware of the incident, supposedly believing it was being "handled". They even received his written confession. Even after I went to the police (after 2 months of no action), he still remained working there for months and continued meeting with young adults in the fire-parties, maybe for about a whole year. Leadership was aware of this. I would see him almost every day, he would always smile and pretend nothing happened. This was late 2004, there was no one who was assigned to deal with these issues. They acted like they didn't know what to do, so they did nothing, even with a confession. The two months before the confession, I literally didn't even believe it had happened. Can you imagine not being able to believe in yourself? I can't really explain unless you personally know how that is. When he wrote the confession, only then did I realize it really happened. I know the event seems small, its not like there was penetration, but the pain and confusion did penetrate deep within my soul, and the lack of protection, month after month was devastating. And to top it off the court details left me very alone and facing the very type of person I was injured from weekly.

- 2-track Intern, employee at one of the shops2004-2008