the Hope of Survivors

A Time to Speak!—Part 2 by Rita

(This is an update on January 9, 2017, to her original testimony published in 2016.)

RitaA few months ago I made the difficult decision to share my personal story on The Hope of Survivors’ website. I penned “A Time to Speak” and knew that I might be opening myself up to severe criticism, rebuke and, more familiar to me—disbelief & accusations of dishonesty. I submitted the story to Samantha and spent the next two nights sleepless. Finally overcome with a terrible fear and imaginary repercussions from “telling the truth” after so many years of covering up for the sake of our family name, I shot the Nelsons an SOS email telling them I had changed my mind about letting them publish my story on their website. They were gracious, patient, supportive and more than willing to pull the article! I knew they had been praying for me and felt such a peace melt over my heart after talking to them. Within another couple of days I confidently gave them the green light to publish the story. My peace was not in assurance that there would be no painful accusations hurled in my direction but, rather, the peace was rooted in my awareness that Jesus held me in His strong, protective arms and whatever might come would be tolerable because of His power! He had my back & would be my defense. I knew that every word submitted in my story was 100% true! God would be my protector now!

The phone calls and letters did come! Most of my family/loved ones did find and read the detailed account of my sexual abuse. What I was totally unprepared for was the outpouring of emotional & spiritual support from even those who had been directly involved in the abuse! Letters came telling me how much their hearts hurt for the abuse I endured all those years. Hours were spent in tearful phone calls as relatives that I never dreamed would believe me or be supportive of ME called to ask my forgiveness & extend their sincerest compassion. I am still trying to take it all in and process what I know is a miracle!!! I am on familiar ground with people minimizing, defending & even denying the credibility of the abuse! I am very accustomed to frowns of disapproval at hurting innocent people by talking about the abuse. I have endured years of this behavior! But this—Compassion! Affirmation! Credence! Apologies!  Love!—I felt at a complete loss trying to comprehend & wrap my mind around it all.

Recently I attended a family member’s wedding in California. Typically this would have been a terribly difficult feat as these family gatherings always brought with them immense pain and many emotional triggers with my pastoral abuser in attendance. Every wedding, funeral, any gathering cost me a great deal emotionally. I often battled with a debilitating “death wish” after these events. Although I did not know exactly what to expect following the publication of my story—I was grounded & felt safe in His arms. Plans were in place to keep a healthy distance from any negative comments or accusations that might be hurled. Instead, I was met with embraces that were long, sincere & felt so healing! Love abounded in our family gathering! There was an amazing sense that God had so much more than just my healing in mind! All of us are growing! This beautiful family was attacked & fragmented by Satan! I now believe that God has a miracle in store and is already beginning to unfold it for my extended family. I believe He is working to restore the years that the locusts have eaten! 

I love His heart!! I love His ways!!!! Sometimes I think I see enough of the “big picture” of my life to shake my finger at God when things don't seem to make any sense or be fair! Today I am moved to a complete awareness that God has something SO MUCH bigger & better in mind for us than we could ever imagine! I want more of His perfect plan in my life!!!!


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