the Hope of Survivors

From Darkness and Despair to Hope and Healing by Madeline Roll

TennisI never thought something like this would ever happen to me. I trusted him and thought he was nice, caring, friendly, and a great tennis coach, until the confusing day that he sexually abused me, four months ago. I didn’t know what to do, think or say. He told me he wasn’t doing anything wrong but then checked to see if someone was looking, I was so confused. He previously had told me he was a Christian man who attended church. He had coached me four years ago when I was 10. That day I was bored, sitting by myself waiting for my brother, so I joined in for the last 10 minutes of the session. I went home that Friday afternoon thinking, “That was so disgusting,” considering he is 60 years older than me. I felt like I couldn’t tell anybody, especially my parents. I felt like it was my fault for going into the tennis court in the first place. I went back to school on Monday and told my friends what happened. They just laughed and said, “That is so disgusting.” My best friend didn’t really believe me so I had to prove it to her by getting her to watch him do it to the other girls who were regularly coached by him.

So anyway, I thought there was no point in telling anyone because no one would believe me. I kept it to myself for a few months before telling my sister and her husband. Those few months were extremely difficult for many reasons. One difficulty was every Friday afternoon after school, I had to sit at school and watch him do exactly the same things to girls much younger than me, while waiting for my younger brother to finish tennis.
Secondly, I was jumpy and edgy and my friends noticed something different about me. Thirdly, my parents found out about the arrest of a 74-year-old tennis coach on the front page of the newspaper. They were wondering if it was the tennis coach from our school. I said that I would not be surprised if it was and Mum asked why. I told her I had seen him kissing girls, but never told her he did it to me, or the other things he did. One night Mum asked me more about what I had seen and I told her very sternly “Just drop it. I don’t want to talk about it.” She then asked me, “Can you imagine what these girls must be going through and how they feel? You should think about reporting what you have seen so the girls that have had this done to them can get the support they need.” 

I wanted so badly to tell her I knew exactly what they were going through, but I just couldn’t so I left it at that and went to my room and cried because I wanted her to stop talking about him and the other girls, but I just couldn’t tell her. Also my friends kept bringing it up at school and I was so over it. I just couldn’t take it any longer so a couple of weeks later I told my sister and brother-in-law what he did to me. It was the day Mum and Dad had left to go interstate to meet up with Steve and Samantha. So anyway, my sister told me that she had to ring them and tell them and that I would have to make a police statement. I just started crying because I didn’t want her to tell Mum and Dad and wreck their time away, and I told her that I would just tell them when they got back. When she was on the phone to Mum I went to my room and just cried and thought, “I shouldn’t have said anything. I should’ve kept my mouth shut. What have I done?

After Mum found out she flew home to be with me while I made my statement to the police. After the visit to the police station she offered for me to fly back to New South Wales with her to meet back up with Steve and Samantha. I was sort of looking forward to meeting them because Mum had talked about them coming to Australia and had told me a bit about them. After we landed in Newcastle we went straight to a Hope & Healing seminar they were presenting. To be completely honest, I thought it was going to be completely boring but I was completely wrong. At first I was not going to go in and listen but Mum convinced me to. After knowing Steve and Samantha and what they do for just a week, God really used them to impact my life in so many ways. They answered all those confusing questions and got rid of all the lies and replaced them with the truth. I felt as if I was going down a non-return path leading to destruction, but they showed the path of light and life and hope for the future and healing for the past. When looking back was too painful, and looking forward was too scary and unknown, I could always look beside me and see the love and support of my family, friends and Jesus. I think that God has really blessed The Hope of Survivors and that Steve and Samantha are doing a wonderful job with the help of God.

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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