This section of the site contains many questions (along
with answers) that typically run through the mind of someone who has been
violated in this manner. We hope that you will find answers to your questions
and that you will realize that God is still in control and can change
life. If you have other questions that are not answered here, or if you need
to talk to someone, please contact us.
We’ll do our best to help you or refer you to an appropriate professional.
is happening to me (physically, mentally, spiritually)?
No doubt many confusing thoughts are running through your mind and you are
experiencing various emotions. You are confused and don’t know for sure
anymore what is right and what is wrong. You may be physically sick due to
the trauma you are experiencing. Before you let another day go by, before
you even speak to your abuser again, PRAY
and ask God to help you. You know what is right to do (according to the Bible)
and if you will let Him, God will help you to do it.
this God’s will?
The short answer, and the ONLY answer,
is NO. God would NEVER
want you to go against anything He teaches in His Word. He would NEVER
ask you to do something so horrendous and contrary to His nature.
“The world has nearly filled up the measure of their iniquity, but
that which will bring the heaviest retribution is the practice of iniquity
under the cloak of godliness…”—Counsels
to Parents, Teachers, and Students, page 256, paragraph 3
says he understands me better than I understand myself. He wants to help me.
Is this wrong? YES! This is wrong and he knows it. It
is the pastor’s responsibility to prevent anything of a sexual nature
from happening. You are counseling with him because YOU
have problems and thought he could help. You did not go to him for a “relationship”
or for sex. Don’t fool yourself—he does know better. He is not
“in love” with you. He is “in lust”—sinful lust—for
you. He may think he knows you better than anyone else, and it may even seem
like it to you, but this is not because he is so in tune to you, it is because
vulnerable women share a common set of behaviors and all perpetrators can
recognize them. This is why so many victims have been victims of multiple
sexual assaults during their lives. From our experience in helping others,
we have come to see that almost all perpetrating pastors share the same common
set of behaviors as well.
have so much in common. Isn’t this a good thing?
No. Again, this is wrong, and if the things you share in common are real,
then he needs help and should not be helping you or anyone else. Just because
you think you may have things in common does not make it God’s will.
More often, what happens is that the pastor may lie (deceive) to make it appear
as though he has things in common with you in order to get you to open up
to him and share your deepest feelings and thoughts. He may then use this
information to manipulate and control you. He could also be imagining that
he has shared interests in common with you. Keep in mind that just because
you may actually have things in common with someone else, perhaps even many
people, it doesn’t make it God’s will.
5. I feel
sorry for him. He says his wife doesn’t understand him, he never wanted
to marry her, she doesn’t take care of his needs (sexually, emotionally),
and so on. He says I’m the only one that makes him feel alive, the only
one worth living for. (There are many excuses here!) How can he feel this
way if it isn’t so?
First of all, WHY is he telling you about
his life and problems? This should NEVER
occur during counseling of any type. He may really believe that he feels this
way, but more than likely, this is his way of getting you to feel sorry for
him so he can take advantage of you. Most women who have been abused are caretakers
by nature and are always trying to help others. When the pastor says these
types of things to the woman he is counseling, he truly does harm to her in
many ways. Now, not only does she have her own problems to fix, but also she
bears the weight and responsibility of his problems too. If he tells her she
is the answer to all his problems, she may believe it and may try to help
him any way she can. This is what makes pastoral abuse (all abuse) so damaging—the
way the abuser (usually knowingly) takes advantage of the woman’s caring
and sympathetic nature.
There is one slight exception to be noted here,
and that is that it may be appropriate
for a pastor/counselor to relate (briefly) a similar situation that he or
another nameless (for privacy issues) counselee has gone through and how the
Lord has helped him through it. The ENTIRE
purpose of this disclosure should be to give you hope, not to have you help
comfort the pastor/counselor.
is he talking about himself, his life, his problems, etc.?
Again, see the above note. This is wrong. You are there to have him help you,
not for you to help him. If your pastor starts to tell you his problems, ask
him to stop and let him know that you have no desire (or right) to be listening
to these things. We would strongly advise that you find another counselor
me? What made me vulnerable? How/why did this happen?
Most likely this happened because you were vulnerable in some way (see “What
made me vulnerable?”) and unable to protect yourself. The pastor
(in this situation) is a predator and took advantage of your weakness instead
of helping you, as he should have done.
Here’s a quote that gives another example of what makes individuals
vulnerable to their pastors: “Anything coming from ministers who should
stand in the light has a powerful influence. And when they have not stood
in the clear light of God, Satan has used them as agents and has through them
transmitted his fiery darts to minds not prepared to resist what has come
from their ministers.”—Mind, Character
& Personality, Volume 2, page 677, paragraph 2
do I do now?
Pray, read your Bible, continue reading this site, read some of the books
and web sites mentioned, tell your spouse, tell the elders of your church,
report it to the authorities, etc.
is threatening suicide if I break off the “relationship.” What
do I do?
No doubt this is a very emotional time for you and you are being controlled
by emotions more than logic or reason. You feel emotionally attached to him
and naturally you want to help him. This trap though, is just another form
of manipulation. Tell him you are not responsible for his actions—no
matter what they are. Call the suicide hotline and ask their advice. Perhaps
phone one of the elders or church leaders and let them know that he seems
depressed and maybe they should keep a closer watch over him. At any rate,
you must remember at all times that YOU
did not make him suicidal (if, indeed he is so) and that he is responsible
for his own choices.
can I go for help? Contact us. Call
a therapist. Check out the other resources listed
in this web site. And, most of all, pray for your Heavenly Father to help
you and give you courage and strength to do what is right.
do I stop this?
Reporting what has happened (or is happening) will probably stop things right
away. If you are not ready to report it, break off all communication with
the pastor immediately. Don’t see him, don’t call him, don’t
accept calls from him, and don’t email him; delete any email he sends
you, etc. Have NOTHING to do with him!
For more details, see this link.
society approve of this type of relationship now? Isn’t it old-fashioned
to think that it’s not a true relationship?
No, society doesn’t approve of this type of “relationship”
and even if some of those in society did, it does not make it right. God
does not approve of this type of relationship. There have been many
cases where pastors and other leaders have taken advantage of their position
and power to abuse, exploit and destroy women (think David Koresh, etc.).
This could never be a relationship that is approved of God. No true love relationship
is ever founded on lies, deceit, adultery, etc., and God cannot sanction a
union of this type. We know that love comes from God alone, and He would never
give people in this type of situation true love for each other. What you are
feeling is purely emotional, and God’s love is not just an emotion,
it is an act, a decision, a choice, a PRINCIPLE.
is this considered abuse? What is consent? Why is this NOT considered a “consenting”
relationship? It is considered abuse because, given the nature of
the relationship (pastor/congregant, counselor/counselee, teacher/student),
there is an imbalance of power. Especially in the case of the pastor who
represents Christ to his flock. Due to the imbalance of power, there can
be no mutual
consent to a relationship of any kind, especially not a sexual relationship.
Listen to an
overview of why this is abuse. Please read an excerpt from the AACC Christian
Counseling Code of Ethics.
whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is
better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast
into the sea.”—Mark 9:42
this about sex, intimacy, unmet needs or something else? Most likely this is about none of those things, yet
all of those things. It is about POWER, it is about sin, not love or sex.
“The man who stands in a position of responsibility
in any of our schools cannot be too careful of his words and his acts. Never
should he allow the least approach to familiarity in his relations to the
students, such as placing his hand on the arm or shoulder of a girl student.
He should in no case give the impression that commonness and familiarity are
allowable. His lips and his hands are to express nothing that anyone could
take advantage of.”—Messages
to Young People, page 290, paragraph 3
is the difference between adultery and an affair? Is there a difference? While modern-day dictionaries don’t necessarily
show the difference between an “affair” and adultery, both typically
being used in the context of a consenting extra-marital relationship, what
we refer to as the difference is the fact that there cannot be mutual consent
between a pastor and a congregant due to the power imbalance and, therefore,
it cannot be considered an “affair” although it is a violation
of the 7th commandment.
In older dictionaries (Noah Webster’s American
Dictionary of the English Language, 1828), adultery
is described as “the unfaithfulness of any married person to the marriage
bed,” “a manner of lewdness or unchastity.” Modern-day dictionaries
tend to define adultery and affair as the same thing, implying that there
is a mutual consent and agreement on behalf of both parties in both instances.
However, when a person in power or authority, such
as a teacher, counselor, pastor, etc., abuses the trust placed in them to
suit their own purposes, it is not considered “mutual consent”
because the person not in authority is vulnerable to the person in authority
and, depending on various circumstances in that person’s past (quite
typically abuse or childhood abuse), therefore, most likely feels unable to
say “no” or to withhold consent. In many cases the vulnerable
person does say “no” and attempts other means of averting the
unwanted attention, but these go unheeded, thus reinforcing in the vulnerable
person’s mind the fact that whatever she/he says doesn’t matter
to the person in authority.
This is even truer in the case of a pastor/congregant
“relationship” where the pastor is a representative of Christ
to the individual and may be (most often is) using Scripture to deceive, manipulate
and coerce the vulnerable individual to do what he wants. (See #13
should I expect from a proper counseling relationship? See link.
do I change my life and start over? You start by praying and asking God to forgive you
your sins and help you to know truth. Ask Him to heal you emotionally, spiritually
and physically. Ask Him to help you overcome your past character weaknesses
and hurts. He will gladly and willing give you all that you ask (in accordance
with His will) and more! He is more than willing and able to renew your heart
and give you a new start.
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall
ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”—Matthew
Please review our Facts
vs. Lies section for additional helpful information!