the Hope of Survivors

Deceitful Love by Cecelia

ChurchWhen people describe me, they often use words such as fun, loud, and carefree. In high school, I was completely innocent and naïve, trusting in everyone I met because I had no reason to think otherwise. I was unassuming and carefree. Unfortunately, my trusting and carefree nature was shattered two years ago.

Throughout my high school years, I developed close relationships with many of my teachers. I respected my teachers and valued the knowledge they shared with me. Towards the end of my senior year of high school, I became very close to one particular teacher. I was happy for the attention, and I was flattered that she showed so much interest in me. We talked constantly and I told her secrets that I had never told anyone before. When I went off to college, she sent me a card every single week and a care package full of goodies once or twice a month. I felt very lucky to have someone who cared about me that much.

However, a year after we became close, our relationship took a sexual turn. I was confused but at the same time I still felt very special. For the first time, I thought I was in love. I ignored the fact that I was having sexual relations with a woman who was 30 years older than I. She seemed so sweet and loving, and she seemed to really care about me. Often I would feel very guilty about having sexual relations with her, but she would always calm me down about it. She said things like “we are meant to be together” or “God intended us to be together.” I believed her at first and justified what was happening between us. I convinced myself that it was okay and even that it was a good thing. As time went on, though, I got tired of doing sexual things. I wanted out of the relationship, but I was so emotionally entrenched that I couldn’t leave. I wanted to please her in everything I did. Looking back, I realize I was truly manipulated. I was groomed perfectly so that when things did become sexual, I overlooked it and even convinced myself that I enjoyed it. The fear of losing her overrode my good sense and rationality.

The “relationship” ended one year ago when my parents discovered what was occurring. My mother picked me up from the airport and said to me, “I know what happened. We’re going to get you through this, and you’re going to be fine.” I stopped talking to my teacher that night. At first I was devastated at the loss—I just wanted to be with my teacher. I missed snuggling with her and feeling safe. But then I started removing my rose-colored glasses and realized how highly inappropriate things were between us. I was deeply confused and felt immense guilt in the months following the “breakup.” It was during this time when I researched sexual abuse on Google, and found The Hope of Survivors website. This website was really a Godsend. I was so unsure and confused at that time, and I emailed Samantha Nelson for advice and help. She was very patient and understanding and spent time helping me work through my issues. Finding THOS website lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. I knew something wasn’t right—having a relationship with a female former teacher who was 30 years my senior—but until finding this website and corresponding with Samantha, I didn’t realize that I was actually sexually abused. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done had I not discovered THOS. Samantha and her husband freely give their time to victims like me, and I so grateful for their ministry.

Today, a year after the abuse ended, I am still struggling immensely with the repercussions. I am 21 years old and am supposed to be carefree and light at this time of my life. Instead, I had to leave the university I was attending and come home to recover over this mess. My college years have been greatly affected by this, and I envy my friends who live such “normal” college lives. I wish that my biggest concerns in life were what dress to wear for the weekend, or whether I made an A on an exam, or if I should flirt with a crush. Instead, I worry about my soul and I worry about having panic attacks in public. Although I know I am not responsible for the relationship, I still am bogged down with constant guilt. That, unfortunately, is my biggest concern in life right now.

While all my relationships suffered because of this, my relationship with God has probably suffered the most. My abuser was a religion teacher. She taught morality and social justice, ironically. I used to be a very spiritual person, and I yearned for wisdom from God. But when the abusive relationship started, my relationship with God stopped. I became spiritually numb. Luckily, I am making progress in my faith, although it is moving slowly. I have started small, saying little prayers here and there and listening to Christian music. I always think about how easy the recovery would be if I could just completely surrender to God and lay down all my worries. I am angry that my teacher has affected my relationship with God, and I am determined to be close with Him again. I know He is waiting for me, and I am grateful for His forgiveness.

However, I am very confident that I’m on the path to recovery. I have good months and bad months, with the good months occurring more frequently. I have learned so much about professional exploitation, and I have also learned how to have good, healthy boundaries. I also discovered how truly lucky I am for my family. This was hard for me to go through, but even harder for my parents. I’m not a parent yet, but I can imagine sexual abuse is a parent’s worst nightmare. My parents have stuck by me through everything and have been very understanding and loving. Most of all, I have learned to become aware. I would like to believe that everyone is a trusting friend, but the reality is that some people have ill intentions. Going through this experience has caused me to grow up. I now am aware that not everyone is your friend. While this experience has certainly been negative, I also think it’s important to move forward and look to the future. Dwelling in our sorrow will only perpetuate the problem. For now I will try to trust in God and let Him take care of the rest.

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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