the Hope of Survivors

Relentless by Sabrina Satterfield

Sabrina SatterfieldHave you ever felt no matter what you did or said it would be turned around to hurt you? The harder you tried to fix something the more out of hand it became... You get tired of the shame and guilt, and hopelessness becomes so overwhelming you feel numb but aching all over at the same time. Your mind stays in a deep confusion and panic takes over every time you step out the door. The same type of car he drives, or the road leading to the place of connection, gives you a deep longing for truth, love, and happiness to return to you. The powerlessness you feel to take it all back knowing in your heart you will never have that chance. The relentlessness of Pastoral Sexual Abuse brings broken dreams, misguided trust, lost relationships, and the ever-amounting rejection that comes from the separation of it all.

I always considered myself strong enough to stand on my own two feet.

I was married before I was 17 to my best friend and a good man. We had a marriage that was strong. We struggled with having children. I had a stillborn, two miscarriages and our fourth child was born early but ok and our fifth very healthy. I was left with some kidney problems and doctors decided it best for us to stop trying for any more children. It was difficult realizing my body just was not able to carry a child like most women. We saw our heartaches very early and at a young age we had a very stable relationship.

We tried getting into the ministry many times but, due to my husband’s inability to read, it seemed like we were always pushed aside. We tried pastoring because my husband felt he was called into it right after our son died. After many attempts we went to just sit at a local church and then ended up being asked to leave there as well, due to a big misunderstanding.

I had been judged by a pastor as being “difficult and trying to find reasons to leave.” So we left and started our journey to find our ‘new home’. The first church we tried, for three months prior to leaving, we decided to go to because the pastor was known for church planting. My husband had a meeting with him, shared his vision on church planting, and the pastor gave him a choice to come under him and learn, or he could go ahead and place him somewhere. My husband knew we could use some more training so we decided to stay. We had tried pastoring twice before and it ended harshly.

After being at the church for almost a year, I was asked to work closely with the pastors. I can remember being so scared of failing them I couldn’t even open mints to hand to one of them. My self-esteem has always been low but, at this point, I was at my lowest. I was so tired of failing and I felt that all I had ever done was fail. I wanted to please them so badly. After, about six months I was sat down and told I was mean, territorial and emotionally unstable. I was told by the leader over me to be aggressive toward people that came near the pastor’s wife because she was pregnant with twins. I later took the fall for just doing what I was asked to do. I was told I made them look bad and, as soon as I could get my act together, I could come back to serve. I was devastated. I went into a deep depression because all I wanted to do is serve them well and my best efforts were treated as if they were nothing.

After two years, I decided to throw myself fully into pursuing them to gain the relationship needed for them to cover us if we go out. I truly just wanted a chance to serve them and prove I could because I felt I had let them down. My kidney was showing signs of failure again and I had to lose some weight in order to help it work properly. Also, my wisdom tooth was pulled and I had dry socket for two weeks. Well, the pastor finally started treating me like I had something to offer. My dad started buying him cows and he would ask me to help with them; I had knowledge in the area. I gave him my dad’s number but he would always call me. The pastor would get me to come to his home while no one else was there, and he would call me all throughout the day just to talk or do business about the cows.

Then he started telling me he liked my clothes or I looked good from losing weight. I felt a little uncomfortable, but also flattered he noticed the small things. My husband and I were not communicating very well because he wanted to plant a church and the pastor just ignored him about it. So, the pastor and I started joking around and becoming friends. We were to go on a mission trip—the pastor, myself, one couple and another man. When we arrived there and were settled, the advances started more heavily. We ended up starting an improper verbal relationship that week while on the trip. We spent a lot of time by ourselves at night. He wanted to know about my sex life and also tried to get me to watch porn with him.

When we came home he would call me more often, and I texted a great deal. I couldn’t talk about it face to face comfortably because I felt I was disrespecting him as my pastor. So I would text most of the time. He would tell me what he would like to see me do and I would take pictures for him. Then I became dependant on him. I felt I needed him to comfort me, and build me up. I got to the place I fell for him. I became more comfortable talking sexual to him. I started hating being with my own husband due to the pastor wanting me to think of him while with my husband. This man awakened something in me I had not felt in a long time—that I was desirable. He made me feel like I could have better and I deserved him because I took all the resistance they threw at me and still stayed. He said I was so loyal I would do anything for them. I was so confused.

He tried to counsel my husband and me all the while telling my husband he [my husband] couldn’t give me what I needed and he could affirm me because he was my pastor. My husband and I, by this point, were fighting all the time and he even became abusive to me because I had changed so much. I was constantly over at the pastor’s house doing for him, while my own family suffered. My boys would ask me, “how could you like being at their home more than your own?”

We were on our way to the lake and my pastor called, wanting me to tell my husband he could show him how to “do me” better sexually. My husband became furious at me for allowing the pastor to talk to him in such a fashion because,. by this point, he was doing it on a regular basis to show my husband he could have me. Then he read some of our texts and found out we were involved in an improper relationship. He stepped down out of the children’s pastor position and threatened to tell everyone if the pastor didn’t leave me alone. I was later sat down by his wife out of the children’s ministry because she said my husband had issues with her husband and she had to protect him.

Then the pastor started making sure I knew I should protect him at all cost to myself, which I did. I wanted to please him and prove I was loyal. He sent us to someone inside the church to help us with our marriage because he realized he was too close. My husband told the man everything and, after talking with the lady, I wanted to as well. I called him to feel him out and asked if he had said anything and he began saying his wife would hate me and I should be very afraid to go there.

Then he began to switch—telling me they loved me instead of he loved me. He started saying they were just trying to help our marriage and us. He started making me feel like it was just me and I was the only one doing anything. I knew something bad was fixing to happen. I felt powerless; everything I tried to do to fix things just made them worse. The guilt of the relationship was overwhelming. I would try to talk to him about asking my husband to forgive us so he would come back to church, and the pastor would say, “don’t go there.” Then some ladies from the church asked me to go out with them. They told me the pastor was saying things in staff meetings, when asked why weren’t we the children’s pastors anymore, like, “I had a crush on him, I had issues, and they were trying to help me out.” My heart sank and I told them some things we had done and he had done to my husband. I WAS EMOTIONAL AND HEART BROKEN. I felt deceived and the pain was relentless.

Then, when I went home, I told my husband everything my pastor and I had done. My husband just cried out, “this man calls himself my spiritual father and yet he has deceived me like this?!” He went to church that Sunday and confronted him. The pastor started yelling at me, “what did you tell them?” (talking about the ladies), and my husband asked him nicely twice to not disrespect me like that. The pastor refused and my husband flew at him. The pastor didn’t mind disrespecting me in front of others. One comment on the mission trip was, “Sabrina you’re so submissive if I told you to get on your knees and lick water off the floor you would, because you won’t tell me no.” After they settled down, the pastor blamed us and told us he would let us know if we could come back after he’d told his wife that I’d told.

Later, that day I tried to kill myself, and they were having a staff meeting to let them know what had happened and why. He stated in the meeting, “he felt trapped.” I had a very hard time with that statement, knowing how it all happened and why it stopped. I went—after getting out of the hospital the next week—and got drunk, I had never drunk before in my life but I felt so broken and so much despair from everything.

Then, a friend introduced me to The Hope of Survivors…

The stories on THOS website sounded just like ours. They had very detailed information on Why me? What happened to me? Fact vs. Lies, etc. I was able to feel hope again. It made me realize I am not alone, and it’s not my fault. Also, it taught me about being groomed for this relationship, and I was able to recognize the grooming that took place early on. The part on Consequences of Abuse let me know why I felt I needed to die. THOS helped me deal with my shame, regret, powerlessness, and deceit. It helped me when confessing my sin. The lies I told to cover and protect the improper relationship. The scriptures were awesome in showing me God forgives me, and loves me. This helped when all the relationships I thought I had left to cover the pastor. I have THOS to thank for leading me to recovery.

Rejected: Isaiah 53:3; Mark 8:31; Luke 17:25
Degraded or humiliated: Matt. 7:30-31
Shamed: Matt. 27:28
Suffered for another’s sake: Phil 1:29; Gal.6:2
Will you let God help? Psalms 40:17; 42:5

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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