the Hope of Survivors

False Friend by S.S.

I had a friend that was a pastor and pastoral counselor by profession. I worked as a volunteer at the church under his supervision. What I didn’t know was that he also had a history of manipulation. He was a predator and apparently I fit his profile. He manipulated things so that I worked more and more closely with him all the while making comments about how husbands see their wives as ‘pieces of furniture sometimes’, etc. He started to become a good friend and I began to doubt my marriage. He started talking to me on the phone for hours always commenting on how he couldn’t believe the ‘connection’ that we had with each other and eventually it was ‘this kind of connection only happens once in a lifetime’ and ‘I want to marry you—we belong together’.

I tried to set boundaries between us so that things wouldn’t go that way—we were both married people—but he intentionally broke the boundaries in an underhanded way and my resolve left me. He always kept me confused, always made me doubt myself, always played ‘mind games’ to make me want a relationship with him more. He swore me to secrecy because, after all, if I told anyone he would lose his job and could never be a pastor again and his doctorate degree he was about to finish would be worthless. He made me not trust our senior pastor by painting him to be the ‘bad guy’—power hungry and politically motivated. He made me not trust my husband by telling me things like, ‘if he ever gets any angrier and hits you or threatens you or the kids you can stay here with me, I’ll protect you’. He isolated me from my friends because I couldn’t tell them about us yet—‘they’d never understand’. He made it so that he was my whole world.

I asked my husband, (more like I demanded), for a divorce and we started living apart. This man went to my mother and professed his love for me to her and told her that he wanted to marry me and love me for the rest of his life. He was 55; I was 32. He told me he wanted us to wait until we were married for anything physical—yet on the first day he kissed me he pushed almost ‘that far’. He had a way of playing the ‘gentleman’ in that area. Always initiating something and then backing away and saying how he couldn’t do that, it wasn’t right, we needed to wait. It was all mind games to make me think he was so wonderful and respectful of my feelings. He was a con man who was way too prepared when things did go that far. He was an angry violent man who didn’t show it until he got what he wanted and by that point I felt there was no turning back.

He used my sympathy to keep me building him up. He used my fear of ending up alone to keep me addicted to the ‘relationship’. He kept up promises of trips to Gatlinburg to keep me in a fantasy world. He used me in every way someone can be used and then shut down on me and no longer cared about my thoughts and feelings, only his own. He used his wife’s home to paint pictures of our future, he even tried once to suggest the use of his wife’s new apartment when they were separated and she was at work for what he wanted! He used his counseling experiences to use my past experiences to his advantage. He would tell me he should ‘send me back’ to my husband because ‘this was harder on both of us then either of us imagined.’ When I was depressed to the point of checking myself into a hospital because I couldn’t go on, he told me that I wasn’t depressed and didn’t need medication—‘I just needed him and I’d be fine’. He talked me out of getting help for weeks and I started having thoughts of taking my own life. He didn’t want me, my husband wouldn’t want me now, if I was alone I would only float from man to man trying to feel loved, my church wouldn’t want me and my family and friends (with the exception of my mother) wouldn’t want me. My thoughts went on and on and told me that life was hopeless.

I cried out to God constantly and finally I just gave up everything to Him and surrendered. I asked God to just make me whole again in any form that He wanted. I didn’t care what, I just wanted to be whole and usable to Him again. He began to turn my life around. I reconciled with my husband who has been such a man after God’s heart. He and I are now more in love than we have ever been (I write this less than a year after reconciliation) and I know that only God could make that happen.

If you are in the same place that I was (or if you can see that your life may be headed in that direction), run as fast as you can back to Christ. Make him the best friend, center of your life that He needs to be. Don’t allow someone else to take Christ’s place in your life away from you. Surrender to God, everything. Pray to Him to allow you to have love for your husband again. Refuse to talk to the one who is confusing you at all costs, don’t see him or talk to him for any reason no matter how bad the addiction to him and no matter how bad the nightmarish withdrawals of that relationship may make you feel. Satan makes you believe that you can’t live without him, when you get away from that deception you wake up, open your eyes and see that God’s love is there waiting for you to return to him. He will hold you through the roughest parts of your life and will comfort you through the moments that are unbearable. Run to God and don’t stop running in His direction. Don’t believe someone who tells you that God wants you to leave your husband; it just isn’t true. God doesn’t contradict His Word and He doesn’t have any reason for you to place your trust in someone who is trying to get you to do just that. Someone who tells you that God is calling you to break one of His commands is deceiving you and they themselves are already more deceived than you are. You can find your love again, you will go on, and there is hope, more abundant than you have ever thought possible. I am living proof.

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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