the Hope of Survivors

I Will Never Regret Telling the Truth by Serenity*, 14 years old

Girl on BenchMy Pastor could have been supportive during what was the most shocking summer of my life. Instead he did the opposite and became a part of the cycle of abuse. 

Three years ago this summer I made a stop on the way home from camp and during a visit with my best friend, she abused me. I was shocked, scared and surprised. Two days later during a play date at my home she abused me again. My parents had always taught me to communicate to them if someone touched me when they weren’t supposed to. I told my parents as I realized she was not going to stop. My parents contacted the authorities to report the abuse. I knew that I never wanted to see her again and that I could never be safe alone with her. I was still very sad and knew it would never be the same. I was also very sad for her as well. I knew she needed help. The friendship I had known since I was little was gone in a second. 

My family was very active in our church and my best friend and her family went to the same church. I was really afraid of how things would be. My mom told me she would make sure I was safe and that I would not be alone with my friend who had done this to me. When we found out that our Pastor had been told about my report of abuse from the other family my parents helped me to write up my wishes in a safety plan and gave it to our Pastor. We thought this would help keep me safe at church.  

What I did not know then and later learned was that my Pastor was not supportive of my reporting my abuse. He was angry that my parents had done this. For me this was disturbing because he baptized me and I knew him personally and trusted him. For him not to believe me felt so awful. For me to be abused, and him not to support me in going to the authorities, made me very angry. I never asked him to take sides. 

My Pastor did not support my requests for safety at church. Instead he did things that made it clear that he supported my abuser and wanted me and my family to apologize to my friend and her family. People in church found out about my abuse. They walked up to my family in stores and told us to apologize. My Pastor wrote my mom a letter demanding she be nice to the abuser and forgive them and their family. I was very confused during this time. My best friend and her family made us very uncomfortable at church. They even approached us after we asked to be left alone. Our Pastor wanted my mom to allow my friend who abused me to stay in a program that I volunteered for every Sabbath. My parents told me it was unsafe for me to go to church anymore. This was all happening while my dad was at home recovering from surgery. Our Pastor knew what he was doing. He told my parents that they had done the wrong thing. Not only did my Pastor hurt me but he hurt my whole family…at times it became too much to bear. I felt like I could not breathe. I knew my life had changed. 

This made me angry. Church belongs to God…not the Pastor. He is not supposed to take sides. He should have listened and cared for all of us in this very difficult situation.  

We still cannot go back to our church. Church members told my mom that she would be arrested if she returns because of what happened. I had to leave all my friends and my church family. This was the church I was baptized in. The church I had attended church school at.  

My family has tried lots of things to ask for help with the church situation but no one will help. My cry for help is not answered.

The one place I have been heard was The Hope of Survivors. They believed me. They supported me. They cared about me and told me that it would be all right. They cared for me and my family the way I think our Pastor should have.  

I thought church was for everyone and to worship God. I did not think it was only for certain people or sides. That seems to be the last thing God would want.  

My prayer is that kids do not have to be abused and that Pastor’s support kids in reporting abuse and dealing with all the emotions. We need healthy boundaries in our churches and with our Pastor’s. I was taught at church to tell the truth. My experience was that the other family and our church made it clear that I should not have told the truth…. I don’t agree and I will never regret telling the truth.       

*A pseudonym

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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