the Hope of Survivors

Silence When the Door is Shut by Allison Moran

How does one even begin to know what to write for an article like this? I’ve pondered, and prayed that the words come out, as they need to be heard, by those that will read them. It is not easy to write the story of what’s happened to me. I know that if you are reading my story, you are probably in a similar place—a place of hurt, shame, confusion, betrayal, and a yearning for wholeness. You are not alone.

At 37 years my senior, my Pastor, claimed he was “in love” with me. Only a month or so after we started attending the Church, I was in the beginning stages of the manipulation process, that would lead to sexual abuse by this Pastor, three years later. Did I have a clue at the time? Not one suspicion.

My youth left me with scars. Family relationships were strained. I never felt like I could measure up to what was expected of me. I lived a life literally looking for love in all the wrong places. I encountered a life of alcohol, drugs, and men—each one leaving deep wounds. As I got older, the scars remained—surfacing from time to time. I tried my best to keep them hidden. I failed. Now, a grown woman—happily married—with a family of my own, I made the choice to seek help. I sought that help from the closest person to God I knew—my Pastor.

We begin counseling. In our very first session, I told him I didn’t trust men much, and his response was, that he was a man of character—a man I could always trust to never cross my boundaries. He remained a perfect gentleman, winning my trust in him completely. Months turned into years—three years later to be exact. By this time, we were very, very close. I looked up to my Pastor as a father figure, and he loved me (or so he told me) like a daughter. In fact, he called me his “daughter,” and I referred to him as my “dad.” Things were going well. I was happy—all that would soon change.

Nearing the end of the third year, a kiss was placed on the top of my head, during a hug that lasted a bit longer than I was used to. The following Sunday, I received that same long embrace, with another tender kiss on my forehead. We spoke a day or so later, and he confessed to me that he had fallen in love with me seven months back. He tried to get his heart in check, but instead, had only continued to fall deeper in love. He wanted to pursue his feelings for me, saying, he couldn’t hold back any longer. Leaning forward, and looking me directly in the eye, he said, “You have to promise me to keep this a secret. You have to give me your word, right here and now, that whatever happens when the door is shut, will remain only between you and I. Nobody can know. My marriage and career are on the line if you tell on me. Promise me you will always be silent!!” Naively, I promised.

For three years this man had been like a father to me. Holidays, birthdays, family dinners, movie nights—he was always around. For three years, I had counseled with this man. What was I to do now? I was a happily married woman! I had children! He was married! He had children, and grandchildren! He was my Pastor!! My mind was racing.

For the duration of the next year, our “relationship” changed. I became the object of his lust. Every time I was with him, he was all over me. Saying “no” meant absolutely nothing. Somehow, he had gotten me to a place, where out of loyalty, or fear, or something I can’t explain, I was willing to comply with everything he asked me to do. He began controlling every area of my life—to whom I talked, what I wore, and my friendships. His jealousy was getting the best of him. He couldn’t stand it if other men were around me. We fought constantly. While in a heated argument one afternoon, he told me that “all men want from me is sex.” He said, “you are a fool if you believe they want to be your friend with no ulterior motives. Look at me. I’m your Pastor, and when I wanted you, I got you!!” I felt as if I had been slapped.

I couldn’t take any more. I told him I wanted out. He said the only way it would end, is if I was the one to end it. But, the more I pulled away, the tighter he held on. He was crazy with jealousy by this point, and lived in fear that I was going to leave him. That combination did not make him a pleasant man to be around. So, after one of the most horrific and degrading acts of abuse (in a public place no less), I finally got up the courage to tell on him. My husband was the one to tell me this was Pastoral Sexual Abuse. He stood by me the first day I told, and he stands by me today. This was not the first time my Pastor had been in this situation. I was not the first woman he made promise to “keep silent.” My hope is that I will be the last!!

The manipulation lasted four years. The sexual abuse lasted for one. The remembrance of what he did to me, will last a lifetime. BUT, Romans 9:33 promises me “the one who trusts in Him, will never be put to shame.” I am moving beyond the pain. I am no longer a “victim”; I am a “survivor!” “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.3:12-14)

If I could leave you with some advice, or input, it would be the following:

1) Hang on to Jesus! He IS your strength when you feel you can’t endure another day.

2) Educate yourself on Pastoral Sexual Abuse. The more you know, the more equipped you are to handle this.

3) Press on! Never give up the fight!

Thank you, Hope of Survivors, for the education you offer. Thank you, Samantha, for the support and encouragement you’ve given me day after day. Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you as an instrument of healing in my life, and the lives of so many others.

In His strong arms,
Allison

[END OF STORY]

If you are a survivor of pastoral abuse, we would love to hear your story and possibly make it available on this web site for others to read and renew their hope. You can use a pseudonym if you choose and rest assured that all personal information will be kept private and strictly confidential. Please contact us.

Please note: We do not necessarily agree with or endorse all the information contained in the survivor’s stories. We do, however, feel they have some valuable information that could be useful to you in your recovery. It helps to know you’re not alone, that others have shared your pain and have healed, by the grace of God, in their own time and way.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18