4. Abduction Leaves Lasting Trauma
By Tomoko ShioyaMy name is Tomoko Shioya. I participated in the International Marriage Blessing Ceremony of 30,000 couples on August 25, 1992, in Seoul, Korea. As with many Unificationist newlyweds, my husband and I chose to wait a certain period before beginning our married life together. We now live as a family and have three children.
In August 2006, I fell into depression. I couldn't care for our children or do housework. I felt as though I was in a dark tunnel. I realized the feelings I was experiencing reminded me of something I had felt many years before.
I had experienced similar feelings 13 years before, when I was abducted and held captive. I had been doing my best to forget that experience, but now I realized I would have to confront it head on. I soon also came to understand my abduction had deeply scarred my husband. I would like to tell you about my experience.
My captivity begins
I was abducted on December 23, 1993, while visiting my parents' home after receiving a request to come give haircuts to my family members. I was held in an apartment in Kyoto for 69 days, and then moved to the Kyoto Saints Church, which is affiliated with the denomination Jesus Christ Church in Japan. I managed to escape after being confined in this church for 38 days.
In the events that led up to my abduction, my parents initially were introduced by a relative to the Yao Lutheran Church in the city of Yao, Osaka prefecture. They attended Bible study classes at this church for a time, and eventually were baptized.
It was at the Yao church that my parents first met Rev. Takeo Funada of the Kyoto Saints Church. My parents began attending Rev. Funada's discussion group, and it was in this group that they began to plan my abduction under Rev. Funada's guidance.
In addition, my mother's cousin, Ichiro Ninomiya, who belonged to the United Church of Christ in Japan and was a missionary to Taiwan, was with me in the apartment for about two weeks. UCCJ is Japan's largest protestant denomination.
This is what happened on the day I was abducted. I finished giving haircuts to my family and was about to leave, when my parents said they wanted to come with me as far as the train station. We walked several minutes from my parents' home toward the station. Then suddenly, we were surrounded by several men and women wearing dark sunglasses.
It happened so quickly, I didn't know what to do. I let out a loud scream out of fear, and called out for help. I was helpless, though, and found myself forced into the backseat of a nearby car.
As the car drove off, I saw there was a similar car leading the way in front of the car I was in, and a third car following behind. The occupants of the three cars were using walkie-talkies to communicate with each other. Then I realized driver of the car I was in was my uncle, and my father was sitting in the passenger seat. My younger sister and mother were sitting on each side of me, each keeping a tight hold on one of my arms.
They took me directly to an apartment in Kyoto. Even when I was let out of the car, my family kept a tight hold on my arms so I could not escape. In the elevator, they made sure I could not see on which floor we got off. My parents put me in a room in the apartment, and then locked the door. They put a chain with a padlock on the door as well. They even took my shoes and hid them.
This was how my captivity began.
I was upset and in a panic when I was first placed in that room. My parents kept telling me, "Tomoko, we're sorry. There was no other way." I told them, "It must pain your conscience to do something like this."
The room was tightly secured, and I could not even go to the toilet without my father watching me.
It was a tremendous shock to be taken by force this way. I was overcome by an almost abnormal fear. Even while I slept, my family members kept watch over me to make sure I wouldn't escape. This caused me a great deal of mental anguish. It was the beginning of many days of pain.
My parents would say to me, "We want to talk with you," "We want you to tell us about the Unification Church," "There's a minister who knows a lot about the Unification Church, and we would like for you to listen to what he has to say." But any discussions that took place did nothing to close the gap between us. It was clear that talk about "discussions" was just a pretext. Their only objective was to have me renounce my faith in the Unification Church.
Around 4 am on the morning of the third day, I opened the glass door to the balcony and went outside. I could see I was on the 8th floor. There was no way down, but I thought I might be able to climb from balcony to balcony to an apartment two doors down. I would wait on that balcony until the people who lived there woke up and then ask them to help me. Unfortunately, my parents saw me on the balcony before I could put this plan into action, and I had to go back inside.
A few days later, I started receiving visits from a woman who had previously been a member of the Unification Church and Rev. Funada. In the beginning, they would bring with them a copy of Divine Principle and other books related to the Unification Church, and go through them pointing out places they said contained errors.
I didn't know what to do, other than to pray. I was made just to sit and listen to their one-sided criticisms of my faith. I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. Should I argue with them in the presence of my parents, or of the minister? I struggled a great deal trying to understand how I should deal with these people. It was clear no matter what I said they were not going to listen. This was particularly true of Rev. Funada. His only opinion of people in the Unification Church faith was that we were "lunatics" and "crazy."
One day, I found a sheet of paper among a pad of papers belonging to my mother. On the paper was a detailed plan about my captivity. It described how I would be taken to the apartment, how I should be treated once inside the apartment, important points to remember, and the proper attitude my parents should take. It even gave such details as the fact I should never be allowed to bathe by myself. It went on to describe the need for "rehabilitation" after I had submitted a formal statement renouncing my faith.
I could see my parents had been coached by the minister, and were carefully following his instructions. It was a shock for me to see this. It made me realize I could trust no one.
The paper also confirmed for me I would never be allowed to leave the apartment until I had signed a statement renouncing my faith.
Rev. Funada came to the apartment almost every day for the first two weeks of my captivity. He would point out how Unification Church doctrine differed from traditional Christianity in its interpretation of the Bible, and criticize the Unification Church for this. He also criticized Rev. Sun Myung Moon's life course. He rejected everything I believed in.
I wondered to myself how anyone could definitively say a revelation from God received by someone else was a lie. What basis could there be to make such a judgment? This was something that could only be known by God and the person himself. Rev. Funada talked as though Rev. Moon was just making everything up.
It was Rev. Funada who had told my parents to lie to me in order to get me into this place. He had coached them. It made me angry to see how Rev. Funada's attitude was filled with hypocrisy.
I also realized, though, the only way I could escape would be to pretend to renounce my faith. So I decided not to resist anything they did or said. I simply endured from one day to the next. I knew my parents were reporting everything I did and said in the apartment to Rev. Funada.
I felt angry that I had to go through this experience, and many times I would cry at night while biting my futon to muffle the sound.
I knew I had to go through the motions of renouncing my faith, but it still took me quite a while to find the courage to go ahead with my plan. Many days went by, and each day I would tell myself, "Today, I will tell them I am leaving the Unification Church,"
"Can I really make them believe I am leaving the church? And even if I did, wouldn't it break my parents' hearts when I returned to the church later?" Such thoughts kept me from making up my mind to go through with the plan.
On the morning of the 40th day of my confinement, I dreamed of True Mother, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon. She wore a bright red chima and chogori, traditional Korean clothing. She had a large belly as if she were in a late term of a pregnancy. She was sitting, but appeared very uncomfortable. In my dream, True Father, Rev. Moon, sat next to her. He leaned over to True Mother and said, "It's a difficult pregnancy this time."
About the time I was abducted, the Unification Church of Japan was conducting a workshop with 1,600 participants. This was an important period for Japan to be able to accomplish its mission as the Eve country that would give life to the world. Like the participants in this workshop, I felt that I also needed to make a firm determination and overcome the obstacles before me.
That evening, a woman who was formerly a Unification Church member came to visit, and asked me, "How do you feel now?" This was my chance, I felt, to say what I needed to say.
Pulling together all the courage I could find within me, I told her, "I would like to separate myself from this so-called faith of the Unification Church."
My heart was filled with anxiety. I didn't know what would happen after I made my statement to leave the church. I couldn't reveal my true heart to anyone, and my mind was extremely unsettled. From this point, Rev. Funada began giving me a lot of material criticizing True Father.
My mind became very unstable. I prayed to God constantly. I even found myself thinking why was God bringing so much suffering on me and my family when all I wanted was to walk the path of truth according to His desire?
At night, as I lay under my futon, I asked God, "Who is the person who has lived a life of truth in Your presence? Who has shed the most tears for You?" These were serious questions for me. It was as if I was testing God.
Then, that night, I had another dream. In this dream, I was washing True Father's back for him. His back was covered with scars from the times he was tortured.
How much humiliation and pain must Father have overcome in the midst of his persecution? He was in the bottom of hell. I was alone in my struggle in the apartment, but God spoke to me through my dreams to protect me and give me courage and wisdom.
I felt Father was saying to me, "Don't give up. Persevere and keep doing your best."
I also saw many brothers and sisters of the Unification Church in my dream. I could tell they were praying for me, and I felt grateful.
Had I relied on my own strength alone, I would have collapsed long ago. I would not even have had the energy to think. I can't imagine where I would be now.
Rev. Funada and the others seemed not to trust me, perhaps because I had attended a Marriage Blessing Ceremony and because I hardly ever expressed my feelings to them.
When I had been held for about two months, my parents began showing signs of frustration. Several times, my mother would begin to cry and say, "I just want to go home."
When my father saw this, he would speak strongly to her, saying, "What are you crying for? Don't you realize how many parents are crying now because of this problem?"
My mother would respond that she understood, and then reaffirm her determination not to leave the apartment until I had understood what was wrong about the Unification Church.
I felt sorry for my parents. Having been indoctrinated by ministers with one-sided views about our church, they were now enduring tremendous mental anguish because they believed they were acting in my best interest. At the same time, I could barely contain my rage toward the ministers who were doing this.
It was hell for me inside that apartment. I was approaching my limit, both mentally and physically. I could not trust my parents or my younger sister. I had to make sure I did not betray my true feelings, and this meant I was constantly on edge. I was afraid I might lose my sanity.
Eventually, I began to vomit and have headaches. I would have tingling sensations in the ends of my fingers. My mind and body were completely exhausted. Because I was kept indoors, I longed for fresh air. I lost my appetite, and my weight declined rapidly to 88 lbs, from 101 lbs. before the abduction. Even today, more than 15 years later, I have not regained my original weight.
At one point, my mother said to me, "The people of the [Kyoto Saints] church say they can't be sure what you are thinking. You need to express your thoughts more clearly."
I knew, though, that if I expressed my true feelings, there would be no telling how long my confinement would continue. The only way I could get out of this situation was to pretend I had renounced my faith.
Finally, after being confined this way for 69 days, Rev. Funada gave permission for me to be let out of the apartment.
During my time in the apartment, Rev. Funada had said, "The Unification Church one-sidedly indoctrinates people and brainwashes them," and "It's a terrorist organization whose members would have no qualms about killing people if Sun Myung Moon gave the order." Yet, it was he who had indoctrinated and prejudiced my parents. They were reluctant to treat me this way, but he convinced them this was in my best interest and this was their only option. He was the one who made them commit the crimes of abduction and false imprisonment. There was something very wrong with the way he manipulated my parents' love for me to foster anxiety in them. There was no consideration given to my basic human right of freedom of religion.
During the period my family was in the apartment, my husband was also going through tremendous difficulty. All he received was a single letter from my mother, telling him a "discussion between parents and child" was going on. He did not even know where I was. The suffering he experienced during this period left deep scars in his heart as well.
Confinement in Kyoto Saints Church
After leaving the apartment, I was sent to live inside the Kyoto Saints Church for what the minister called "rehabilitation." My life there was a slightly less stringent version of confinement.
According to Rev. Funada, "A person leaving the Unification Church falls into a state of hopelessness, because he or she realizes the entire belief system was wrong. So unless a person clearly understands the errors of the Unification Principle, he or she cannot lead a normal life. Reintegration into society is not possible. For this reason, it is important that the person be taught the correct truth, in other words the teachings of the Bible." This was his explanation for the need for me to go through "rehabilitative living" by remaining in the Kyoto Saints Church.
On the one hand, he would say, "I am not forcing you, because you are free to believe as you choose," but then he would also say, "It would be good for you to adopt [his version of the traditional Christian] faith." This hypocritical attitude by a minister who was conducting forced conversions made me feel there was no truth in that place and that he had nothing I was seeking.
My family was completely exhausted when we left the apartment. Still, my father returned to his job immediately after leaving the apartment three days before my mother and I did.
During my confinement in the church, I was with five others who were also in "rehabilitation." Three former Unification Church members worked as volunteers conducting what was called "protective persuasion," which meant to live with us in the church and persuade us to leave the Unification Church completely. Rev. Funada's family also lived with us.
All of us, with the exception of Rev. Funada's family, slept together in one room. We would go out to buy our own groceries, and we prepared our own meals.
My mother and younger sister were with me on the first night in this church. The next day, my sister left after declaring she could not endure such group living. From that point, it was just my mother and me.
We began each day with Bible study at 6 am, and from then the schedule would vary from day to day. We would attend prayer services, additional Bible study sessions, evangelical rallies, hymn singing meetings and family visitations. On Sunday we attended church, and then at 1 pm we would attend a meeting to discuss the "Unification Church issue."
I was never compelled to attend these events, but was given the basic advice, "Do your best to attend."
My mother would go with me to the restroom and would bathe with me as well. I could tell she had a strong desire to trust her daughter, and it was difficult for her to have to keep watch over me.
At bedtime, the former Unification Church members would take the places nearest the door. I was assigned a spot farthest from the door, perhaps because they were concerned I might try to escape.
I once saw my mother crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she said the people of the church had told her she needed to "try and behave with a little more consideration to what is in your child's best interest." She already was doing the best she could, and it hurt her to be spoken to in this tone.
A week into my "rehabilitation," I was told to draft a formal statement declaring I had left the Unification Church. I was given copies of such documents written by others who had left the church under Rev. Funada's influence, and told to use these as my guide. My situation then was I would not be allowed outside until I had gained the trust of the minister and others.
After signing and submitting this document, I told my mother I wanted go have my hair done, and we went out together. I was allowed outside only in the company of my mother, but it felt good finally to be able to walk around in the open air. It made me realize that if I only endured a path would surely open up for me. I had a feeling of hope, as if I were experiencing a new spring after a long winter.
I later learned my husband attempted to visit me while I was at the Kyoto Saints Church. The people of the church told him, "Tomoko says she doesn't want to see you now," and turned him away. He had come all the way from Tokyo and gone through considerable difficulty to locate me, but he had to return without being able to see me. I was never told he had been there.
After 20 days in the church, my mother's health began to deteriorate. The people of the church decided I had made enough progress that it would be alright for her to leave, and so she returned home.
While my mother was in the church, I could only bathe in the private bath of Rev. Funada's family. My mother would do my laundry for me at a nearby coin laundry. The situation changed after her departure. I still was not permitted outside without a chaperon, but as long as someone was with me I could go to the neighborhood public bathhouse and the coin laundry.
When I thought of how my parents and younger sister had sacrificed for me, and acted in ways they believed to be in my best interest, I could not bring myself to make a determination to return to the Unification Church. I began to think my only option might be to do as the Kakure Kirishitan (Hidden Christians) did during the period Christianity was outlawed in feudal Japan. They pretended to worship Buddha, while secretly holding on to their Christian faith from generation to generation for more than 200 years. I really thought I might be going crazy. I don't think I had the ability to make rational judgments.
I knew I could not deny I had experienced a feeling of salvation through the teachings of the Unification Church. I thought, too, of how much my husband must be suffering. I continued in this state of confusion, and at times I felt like shouting out, "Who does my life belong to anyway?" It was an extremely difficult time for me. All I really wanted to do was to live my life in a situation where I could be honest to my own feelings.
The minister and others seemed to trust me more and more. They took me with them on a visit to another Unification Church member they had abducted and placed in confinement. I would attend counseling sessions with parents and relatives who were planning to abduct an adult child who was in the Unification Church, and the minister would ask me to talk about my own experience. It made me feel terrible that I was lying about my true feelings and doing things that went against my conscience. I soon realized if I did not find a way to escape I would turn into something that was not me.
Everyday, I prayed to ask God what I should do.
Then one day, I saw where someone had copied the Bible verse Isaiah 41:13 onto a sheet of paper and taped it to the wall.
For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
"This is God's voice," I felt, and it moved me to tears.
I want to live honestly, without having to lie.
I don't want to be made a victim of religious conflict.
With these thoughts, I decided to trust God and make my escape. On the 38th day of my rehabilitation, 107 days after being abducted, I managed to escape from this surreal environment.
For the first three years after my escape, I did not meet my parents, and communicated with them almost exclusively by mail. I did not return immediately to my previous activities within the Unification Church. Instead, I remained with a certain family who helped me, and let the wounds of my heart heal day by day. It was in the home of this family that I was reunited with my husband, we were able to begin having children. We were deeply grateful to God that this was possible.
My husband, who was very pure-hearted before my abduction, had become suspicious of everyone and no longer enjoyed meeting people. His parents had been very happy about our marriage, and before my abduction we were planning to hold a separate marriage ceremony for just our couple. My parents, however, had suggested to his parents that they also have him abducted, so any discussion of a marriage ceremony now was impossible. The two of us began our life together almost as though we were in hiding.
My husband deeply resented my parents. There is no telling how badly his heart was trampled upon by my abduction and captivity.
Every time I even mentioned anything having to do with my parents, his face would quickly tense up, he would become upset and direct toward me feelings he could not take any other place. He did not sleep well at night but tossed in bed. Finally, burdened by resentment and sorrow he had no way of resolving on his own, he fell into depression.
He could not work. Even when he found a job, he would quit after a short time. This made him even more critical of himself, and his suffering grew worse.
For six years, he lived as though he were caught in a sand pit trap of an antlion. Then in the summer of 2006, I also developed depression. Even now, my husband cannot listen to me talk about my abduction experience without feelings of anger welling up within him and his facial expression becoming tense. He has flashbacks of his experiences, and unresolved resentment comes to the surface.
This is an example of how abductions also scar the hearts of relatives who do not directly experience the abduction and captivity themselves. Fifteen years after the experience, my husband's scars still have not healed.
For a long time, I did not understand my husband's pain. He expressed anger toward me, and I blamed myself. When I also developed depression, however, the suffering I experienced through depression overlapped with the suffering I experienced when I was abducted, and this brought me to reassess my understanding of my husband's feelings.
Of course, there were many times when I made my husband angry. My husband, though, once said to me, "My anger toward you is made greater by the resentment that is deep in my heart for the way your parents humiliated me."
When he said this, I realized this was not just a matter between me and my parents and that our family was still a long way from resolving the issues surrounding my abduction and captivity.
Sometimes I, too, become discouraged by my own powerlessness and begin to feel there is no value to my existence. I just keep seeking the things I want to find, and maintain my faith while keeping a low profile by connecting to a home church near where we live.
We have been blessed with three children, and my husband and I hope to raise them in a God-centered manner.
The ministers who oppose the Unification Church deprive a person of freedom until that person completely loses his or her Unificationist faith. They take advantage of the love of parents for their children. They may refer to what they do as "protective persuasion," but this is nothing other than forcible abduction and confinement. They have no regard for the individual's free will, and they treat people as though they were mentally ill. The scars are even deeper for the person, because they are abducted and held captive by their own parents, the people they trust most.
Freedom of faith is taken away, damage is done to the parent-child relationship, and there is no telling how much time and effort is required to repair these. I felt strongly that such behavior, which destroys people's character and endangers both their body and spirit, must not be condoned.
In addition, people such as my husband who were not directly abducted themselves are put through tremendous mental and psychological stress.
The ministers opposed to the Unification Church who act with a smugly moralistic and intolerant concept of righteousness and continue even today to abduct people and hold them in captivity can be forgiven only with great difficulty.
My own experience is nothing more than the tip of an iceberg, and I am sure there are others who have experienced even worse.
I plan to continue raising my voice to bring an end to the problem of abduction and confinement.
Japan Victims' Association against Religious Kidnapping & Forced Conversion