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Published 4/6/2009 with permission from
In January 2001, I was a devout Roman Catholic. I played guitar for Mass. I loved the Lord.
I was dealing with the pain of having lost my dad, so was going through some issues with pain and on an antidepressant that
took away my ability to be careful, and trusting. I was devoutly Roman Catholic and had blinders on when it came to
the church's religious. I thought they walked on water and would never do anything to hurt me.
My husband and I
received the visit of a Catholic Sister to my home in February, 2001 for some lessons in hot process soapmaking. She
is a Sister in the same order as my husband's aunt, whom I fondly refer to as "Aunt D" After a few days of
visiting, this visiting Sister offered me a massage. She had brought her massage table from her convent. Initially
I said no, not because I didn't trust her, but because I just wasn't comfortable with a massage idea. I had never had one.
to the best of my recollection, asked again. She so wanted to thank me for the soapmaking lessons. I didn't want to hurt her
feelings, so I said yes. She brought the massage table in to the house. My husband went upstairs to watch television,
because he trusted Sister as much as I did. In fact, we had been so honored to have a nun visit our home that in anticipation
of her visit, we bought a new bed for the room she would be staying in and my husband gave her a new crock pot for soapmaking
as well as some beautiful wooden molds that he had made with his own hands.
She told me to go upstairs and take
all my clothes off except for underwear. Bra off please. Wear robe. I came back downstairs. She told me that the massage
of the chest area was done to heal the sternum and she would need to undrape the chest area to do so. I told her that
I was not comfortable with this and no. She then responded to me, to the best of my recollection, that I did not
have to be afraid, that she did this massage on the mother superior and that it would help clear the lymphatics, and that
it was a special procedure she had learned. I was trusting. I was devout. I was Catholic. I believed. This is where the church
doesn't get it. They stick up for minors who have been hurt but they don't realize how much we devout Catholics trusted our
priests, nuns and religious. The Catholic part of me thought I was in safe hands. The sheet was not lowered down gently.It
was whipped down. That area of me was massage (I apologize that in my pain I remove myself from being more descriptive).
When it was done, she thanked me for letting her be my very first massage experience.
The experience was quickly
tucked away into the "I can't understand this" and I went into denial. The next morning, my husband and I
gave her $300 of fragrance oils for her soapmaking and she returned home. My husband sent her some more soapmaking molds for
her ministry. We gave so much. We believed. We trusted.
Then the emails started happening. Words like "love
you bunches" and "holding you in my heart" and "sending my love" and "when I see the soapmaking
list I want to tell them about the love and support I have for you but I'm a private person and I would rather keep it between
us". Denial. I continued to push it off, like a lot of Catholics that are most likely reading this and thinking
that there's nothing wrong. My husband pushed it off too. We thought she was sincerely a loving Roman Catholic Sister. We
continued to deny, deny...til one weekend, I was visiting her monastery. At lunch I sat with a group of sisters an an oblate.
The oblate was so kind, I thought she was a sister, though I did not call her sister. Sister said "she's not one
of us. She's just an oblate". She was a nice person, nicer than Sister was being at the moment.
there was a situation that played itself in front of me. Another sister in the order of the predator, came into the
soap area asking for a bar of Mayan Gold Soap. She was "on her way out" and the animosity against her had started.
I was a person that was observing this for the first time and not involved, but the nun whose actions in my life were suspect,
chose to involve me. She refused to give the kind sister the soap. She turned to me and said "I'll tell you about
HER later!" I was shocked. I left the room to follow the sister who, saddened, had left the room. I had brought
some Mayan Gold Soap from home and gave this sister a bar of my soap. Not too much later after that, to my understanding,
the sister who had been badly treated, left the order.
Then at dinner, I sat with another group of Sisters to learn
more about my husband's aunt's life in the order, and simply to meet some more sisters in Aunt D's order. That's when
things got worse and the Sister who had done this massage became upset. She informed me she was not driving me back to the
airport on Sunday. then Monday she changed her mind and told me that she would drive me back. I didn't know what to think.
This kind sister was being so mean, and in my Catholic mind I was denying and realizing there was a problem I refuse to let
it in and I was in turmoil. In the car, I thanked her for driving me to the airport and that I wasn't going to be in touch
anymore but I was glad to have helped her. She started yelling at me, her hands tight on the steering wheel and she said,
and I remember the words as clearly as yesterday "You can't do this to me. You can't put an end to our relationship.
I won't let you do it!"
When I got back home, I saw my husband with those blue eyes that had calmed
me through labor experiences, my life, my love. I burst into tears and he said "what is going on?" I hadn't told
him. So I told him and he started crying. We went to talk to our favorite pastor. Our pastor got very angry
at the situation and told us to get away from that group and not talk to them. He said I had been exploited. I remember sitting
in front of the Blessed Sacrament that day and crying and then, curling into a ball.
I was not the typical SNAP
member. I spent 7 years fighting the survivor movement and trying to believe that there was something I was missing. Even
if she learned to do massage this way, she should have immediately spoken up. In fact, the day silence started, my husband
and I sent a big bunch of flowers and a teddy bear to the order. Let us talk? But they shut us out. Three years of silence.
When the scandal hit, I got three years of communication, tons of recipes and about 5 to 6 emails a day from one of their
beautifully spiritual elderly sisters who talked about everything in her life, her organ playing, her best friend in the order
who had cancer and died, she was an inspiration to me. But we were never allowed to talk about what happened. I needed
to see my husband and myself in the same room with Sr. Cathleen to talk this all out and replace the anger with forgiveness
but Sister, from day one of the silence, chose anger. There was one airport confrontation when I was flying back from
a clergy abuse retreat and I was in the airport. She showed up and told me to go away and never talk to them again.
Her superior tried her best but her superior at the time, who seemed to be a kind person, could not deflate Sr. Cathleen's
anger. I spoke up. I outted her. I brought the situation to the attention of the order.
I remember being in Tucson,
one of the monasteries of this order. I told the kind elderly sister that I was in denial and that I was in turmoil
because I didn't have any answers. Did the sister learn to do massage this way and was upset that I had misunderstood her?
This sister responded to me and as God is my witness, the elderly sister said "It should be quite obvious to you that
she blew it, but the mother superior has her checked and is leaving no stone unturned".
The anger against
me has continued. She joined the major soapmaking organization and is now on the steering committee for the organization.
I placed a formal complaint and was told, in so many words, to the best of my recollection to go away. Sister
is now on the steering committee for the organization, to the best of my understanding. I, a practicing soapmaker, cannot
have the logo of this organization on my soap site. How can you tell the organization you want to be a member when the sister
who massaged you topless and went silent about it and then used anger, sits on the steering committee?
As God is
my witness, what I have told you is the truth. In these 7 years, my health deteriorated. At the age of 48, I am on two
Peggy, who is the owner of this site, is one of the few that have validated my experience.
My sincerest apologies to SNAP for doubting their mission but I have seen firsthand, sadly, that the Catholic Church really
does not care. If the Catholic Church cared, this Sister would not be on the steering committee. Her business in
handmade soap would not exist. I was like a balloon ready to explode, keeping it in, keeping it in, trying to find peace,
the true peace that ecompasses understanding and reconciliation but what I found was anger and silence. Their silence
and the yelling I got in the airport, fueled my own anger and it made things impossible.
I must let go now of trying
to reach peace with this order. Aunt D died late in 2008. To the best of my understanding, I got silence when
I tried to call in and write in to see if I could go to her funeral. I didn't get to go. One of the sisters kindly put
a rose on Aunt D's grave for me. I can't even imagine what she must have gone through except for one comment. Aunt Dtold
me that she was treated badly because of what happened to me. She felt she was demoted in her ministry because I was the wife
of her nephew. I know she's happier in heaven.
To be honest, I am not sure I believe in heaven anymore and in organized
religion. The Bible says so many things. I do continue my healing journey with a closure to attempts for peace, negating and
denying my position to try to buy peace, and trying to reconcile myself to all of this, by embracing the bible verse John
16:33. "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world". I hope that God,
if He is up there, is reading this along with me and I ask Him to bring justice to my experience and the experiences of all
the clergy abuse survivors, both children and trusting adults, to bring us peace, community with each other and those who
accept us (you would not believe how people discriminate against you once they know you are a survivor. It takes a special
friend not to be angry with you because you are a survivor). I hope for sound over silence (SOS). Bad silence is not
Christian. It's not loving. It's not kind. It's not healing. It's not life giving.
I am writing this on Palm Sunday.
Because I know that when Jesus walked up to the cross, He walked up there for our pain and here today, in 2009, silence and
lack of understanding to adult survivors is still happening. For the church to notice, you have to have been a child.
I'm sorry, I wish I could be like Jesus and forgive all this but the pain runs too deep and in joining the major soapmaking
organization as a steering committee member, this Sister has thrown salt in the wound and disregard for her actions for she
never experienced, or attempted to experience, genuine and peaceful reconciliation with my family, to reach out to my husband
to apologize to him, to be a kind person to us. She blocks us. That's not of God. I want nothing to have to do with
a church that fosters and rewards this behavior.
As a soapmaker, no amount of soap that I make will ever wash her
hands off my chest. Speaking up, I begin to set myself free.
To all the survivors reading this, I hear you.
You are not bad people. you are good people. Don't ever forget that, no matter how the church treats you.
with permission by Rebecca from Maine
I am an adult survivor of clergy abuse in the Protestant tradition. Adult abuse can
be complicated to understand, but because of the power differential the relationship is never consensual. The intricate ‘web’
that our perpetrator spun served to relax boundaries and create a sense of ‘normalcy’, as he befriended my spouse,
family, and our friends.
came forth in God’s time. My husband was incredibly supportive despite his own woundedness. Together,
we pressed the United Methodist Church for justice for harms done by our perpetrator, who admitted to more than just
my offense in his long career. Even so, he tried to plead nolo contendere. The Church
processes towards seeking a ‘just resolution’ ended. Our perpetrator was stripped of his clergy orders (defrocked)
and appropriate churches and other local institutions were notified. In addition, financial compensation through civil mediation
was met to our satisfaction.
I would like to share with you part of an article I wrote for a local seminary. It is
my own story. Writing for me is therapeutic, and to know it might help others prevent this horrendous crime from occurring
again keeps me hopeful.
Clergy sexual abuse is
evil because it always involves a period of what therapists and experts call ‘grooming.’ This differentiates the
relationship from a consensual ‘affair’ because – unlike a mutual relationship, even an adulterous one --
there is a chronological strategy involved. Sadly, most victim/survivors reveal that a religious leader
has told them that he ‘set eyes’ on them from the first day he met them. A typical scenario follows:
A pastor breaks down a congregant’s defenses by making her feel special, perhaps by elevating her spiritual gifts,
or by using his position to develop a close relationship. Garland (2006, pg. 43) writes, “He uses personal warmth to
obscure what his true intention is.” Garland also states that this warmth is expressed in many ways,
including admiration, indication of a long-term relationship, affectionate gestures and touching, a desire to work on a shared
project, and overuse of compliments. It is not uncommon to find this means of exploitation is extended to her spouse and family
as a way of ‘keeping’ the victim (Nelson, 2007).
All these actions are often inappropriate
for a religious leader, and particularly so with a vulnerable person who may be lacking this kind of attention in her personal
life. What often happens next is the act of transference, where the victim has feelings of gratitude for the pastor. Often,
he is the father figure she has either been missing or has had an abusive relationship with in the past. In addition, the
pastor may enter into a counter-transference relationship, where he begins to see the potential] victim as someone special
in his life, but in an idealized way. He might say, “You’re so like my mother, only my mother
In essence, long before any sexual encounter has taken place, the clergyperson has established him- or herself as someone
who is using the vulnerable congregant as a means to fulfill many deep needs of his/her own. Unfortunately, many clergy perpetrators
suffer from some form of mental and emotional health problems due to unresolved issues from childhood, but have been able
to conduct themselves professionally because the clergy position is a very independent practice with very limited accountability,
until recently (M.G. Burton, personal communication, August 9, 2007). As Rachel Clarion (2007) writes in Drowned in Living
Water, “the game isn’t about sex; it’s about the power in the game of persuasion, whittling down, and
finally conquering a woman’s resistance.”
Clergy abuse is evil because it becomes a betrayal at one’s innermost spiritual
core by what our culture has historically perceived as a highly trusted individual with moral and spiritual
authority and integrity -- an authority in and of itself that can traumatize not only the primary victim, but entire congregations
past and present who now become ‘secondary victims.’ Much time--as well as awareness and education
on this matter -- is needed for appropriate healing for all.
Arms, M.F. (2002). When forgiveness is not the issue in forgiveness: Religious
complicity in abuse and privatized forgiveness. Journal
of Religion and Abuse, 4(4), 107-128. Burton, M.Garlinda – General
secretary for General Commission on the Status/Role of Women, United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN. Clarion, Rachel (2007). Drowned in Living Water – a Story of
Clergy Abuse and Therapeutic Deception. Empowerment Press Garland, Diana (2006). When Wolves
Wear Shepherds’ Clothing: Helping Women Survive Clergy
Sexual Abuse. Journal of Religion and Abuse 8 (2), 37-70. Nelson, Samantha
I trust you will take this testimony
of the ravages of the exploitation to the extent you will vote for amending legislation in Kansas that includes clergy and
the abuse of adults as a criminal act in your state. Thank you for taking the time to consider this writing.
Published 12/2008 with permission
by Suzanne in Maine.
My story is ongoing as my perpetrator lives in the same small town
as me and my children. He and his church leaders have committed slander against me and have done all that they can to discredit
my character. My perpetrator portrays himself as the victim....as he believes he has done nothing wrong. However, he did do
something very wrong. His actions eventually led him to be suspended for clergy misconduct and I was one
of his victims.
Now that his dark side has been uncovered and publically exposed, he will sometimes glare at me, in passing,
with a look of hatred. However, I am not scared nor do I feel threatened by him.
I told the TRUTH. I have the truth to lift me out of the dark hole he chose to put me and my children
in. And, I VOW to keep speaking my truth until the legal system makes it difficult for perpetrators of clergy misconduct and
abuse to continue in the ministry ~ preying on countless souls and raping them of their faith.
My story ~ my truths
~ began in the early winter of 2007.
My offender was my trusted
UCC minister of seven years. I thought he was my friend and a man whom I could trust. Little did I know that he was grooming
me for what many congregants considered an “affair” and no one else’s’ business. But, it was clearly
professional misconduct, clergy abuse of power, and NOT an affair.
My UCC minister used his vocation, scripture, and his "calling" to seduce me. He told me
that "spiritual heat" was "hotter" than physical heat. He read to me Song of Solomon. He spoke of a love
between us that was like no other he had ever experienced.
Whenever I questioned
his obsession or preoccupation with sex, he claimed he was extremely deprived in his marriage of many years.
I have since learned three facts: (1) at
the time he seduced me and invited me up to his bedroom, he was still romantically involved with a woman from out-of-town.
As a matter-of-fact, he had plans to travel with her to North Conway in order to celebrate his upcoming birthday that
following April; (2) ministers DO have an Ethical Code of Conduct that forbids romantic relationships between parishioners
and clergy. My minister led me to believe that our relationship was sanctioned by his UCC superiors; and,
(3) in nine states, what took place between my minister and I would be considered a criminal offense in the eyes of the law.
Red flags came and
went. My minister gave me many mixed messages. For example, he stated our relationship was the best he had ever experienced;
he was in love with me, and promised to marry me in the near future. But, yet he did not want to
go public with our relationship quite yet. He asked that we be discreet. And, by being discreet, my children and I could remain
at his church; the only church we ever knew since moving to Maine.
The other red flags led me to ask many questions. My minister was able to talk his way out of every
tight corner he put himself into. I believed him because of WHO he was; he was my trusted minister. He
was articulate, charming, romantic, and obsessive of me...
I thought I was special;
an exception to the rule.
I eventually found out that I was not his first parishioner romance. He too was newly divorced. He confided
in me that a few years back, he had sought "counsel" from another divorced women who was a member
of our church. He went to her for "advice" about raising boys and “one thing led to
another”, he stated. They now remain "friends"(his words) and I believe she serves on his
church diaconate committee. He was still legally married when that relationship took place. It leads me to the questions:
how many other parishioner romances did he engage in or will engage in, in the future??
My minister was consumed
by the topic of sex. He spoke of it all the time.
He spoke of the TV
show "Desperate Housewives" as being one of his favorite shows. He even mentioned that he intended to watch the
show after the church Youth Group in one of his youth group emails. I saw the email as I was also included
in that distribution list as I was recruited, by him, to assist him with church work whenever time permitted me to do so.
minister was due to go on sabbatical that summer and wanted to take me away to Acadia, Maine and then to Jackson, New
Hampshire. It now appears that his MO included romantic trips away so that he would not be seen with a parishioner.
How many other church parishioners did he go away with on romantic trips, I have since wondered.
As I stated before,
I was not his first parishioner romance....
He soon promised me marriage
and spoke of the idea that once public, I would have to find another church but added it would be only "temporary".
He then promised me that my children and I would soon return to my church ~ our church ~ as his wife and as his children.
He forgot to tell me
that he had also promised marriage to his last girl friend; the one he went away with during the beginnings of our romance.
The one I later found out that he continued to call and ask to get together with as he found her to be "hot and
sexy". I guess I wasn’t that special after all; I was merely one more conquest for him.
I had questions though; questions he would not answer. Questions I needed to be answered before I would accept
a ring of engagement from him. So, I conferred with another UCC minister 50 miles north of our community. She stated
that I should speak with our states’ UCC headquarters.
I sent an email inquiry to the Maine UCC headquarters in Yarmouth. That inquiry prompted an investigation.
I was asked to be interviewed numerous times by the states UCC. However, I NEVER met with the Diaconate Committee of
my church. They ~ my church family ~ shut me out. They quickly turned their backs on me and held tight to my ministers
slanted and twisted version of our story.
I was then harassed with anonymous letters from an angry church parishioner. They even sent one letter
to my work place insisting they fire me from my job!
Letters of support,
for my minister, found their way to the local papers; all from people who neither knew me nor spoke to me to hear my side
of our story.
It was unreal how these self-proclaimed Christians behaved.
I was shunned like a modern day Hester Prynne from the Scarlet Letter.
My children were deprived of the only church they ever knew. I lost my church friends and church family.
Church was once a place of solitude and protection for me. Now, I view it as a place of dysfunction, collusion, and cover-ups.
It saddens me that so many parishioners are blinded by my charming and charismatic minister. He is back at
And, I am left hoping and praying that my minister did not pass on to me an STD that will affect my health
and well-being into my future. My children and I have been raped of our trust and faith in organized religion. We no
longer attend church. What use to be our weekly offering money now goes to SNAP (www.snapnetwork.org) as a monthly donation.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story. Every time I tell it; I heal a little bit more. For fellow
survivors I add: Find your voice. Speak your truths. Unite to fight against clergy abuse. Silence sanctions abuse.
We all have the power
to put an end to hypocrisy and to shine light on the churches dirty secret: current laws – for the most part - do not
protect parishioners from clergy professional misconduct or clergy abuse.
Peggy, I thank you for the work that you do.
are an angel on earth.
Peace be with you always ~
Published 12/07 with permission by anonymous
"Love is blind". I was living that adage for 15
years with a Catholic priest. We had a relationship not an affair, I thought. Affair is a term used to describe a sexual liaison
between peers or equals and a ministerial relationship is professional in nature.
Though the years, my love blindness
distorted my perception of the man I thought I knew. I was blind to his self-absorption and to signs of relationships with
other women. I believed the cards and letters signed with "Love". When I became pregnant and aborted our child to
save his career, I ignored his participation in the Pro Life Marches in Washington, D. C. year after year.
My love deafened
me to his "weak" explanations of how he could afford luxury cars, his motorcycles, his home near the lake and his
Even after the disclosure of his relationship with another woman was brought to the Bishop’s attention
and he was forced to resign, I was still in love with him. I continued to be one of his biggest supporters. I turned a deaf
ear to his lies while turning to God for direction. I prayed like I have never prayed before.
By the grace of God, my
eyes and ears were opened. I learned he had been sent to "rehab" for relationships prior to my meeting him. I learned
that he arranged to have some parishioners place him in their Last Will and Testament under "irrevocable trust".
I was stunned that I had been so blind to his lack of integrity.
By now my eyes and ears were wide open and my heart
shattered! But I’ve been able to pick up the pieces. With the support of my loving aunt and friends through their caring,
compassion, encouragement and honesty I found some of the glue that I needed to begin mending my heart.
of mending came from the group, Educating to End Abuse, founded by Peggy Warren. I can’t believe there are others with
With the encouragement of my precious aunt and concerned friends, I sought professional counseling.
At first, I didn’t think I need psychological counseling but after going through it, I know it was exactly what I needed.
As I continue to heal, my biggest supply of glue has come from a non-denominational minister who has encouraged
me to forgive and let go of the past. I have forgiven for my mental and physical health. Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation.
I do not condone his actions. Forgiveness is helping me move on.
I now know that the person I was in love with was
not a man. A real man does not hide behind a collar. A real man doesn’t make excuses for his actions. A real man would
not continue to lie and deceive those who trust in him because he wore a collar.
With my faith in God and the support
of those who love me, my eyes and ears remain wide open. I look forward to someday finding love. A true love that is real
Published with permission by Allison Moran
Today marks exactly 18 months
since I told on my Pastor. When I told on him, I had fears and regrets. Now, all these months later, I am fully confident
that keeping his secret was wrong, and exposing the truth is what brought me complete freedom.
His explanation for
what took place…"a consensual affair, between two grown people." The truth of what happened…Pastoral
(or Clergy) Sexual Abuse.
For a stretch of about 4 years, our family – which consisted of my husband, me, and
our four children – attended a small Baptist Church. We were welcomed with open arms, and quickly became involved in
nearly all the activities and programs the Church offered.
After 3 or 4 weeks, I approached the Pastors, asking for
counseling. Initially, I asked the Pastor’s wife, and she politely refused…saying her husband was better equipped
to handle my type of background and hurts. Coming from a past full of abuse, poor choices, and heartache, I found that I was
pretty nervous to counsel with this man. BUT…he was 37 years older than me, and had been a Pastor for longer than I
had been alive. He appeared to be happily married, was a father, and a grandfather. I figured he must be safe, so I agreed.
We counseled on a consistent basis, for a time that stretched from months to years. Toward the end, of course, our
time together did not resemble counseling at all, and I was being harmed deeper than all my previous hurts, combined. It’s
only now, all these months after the fact, that I can see everything clearly. During those 4 years, I was so perfectly groomed
and manipulated, that neither myself, nor my family members could see the devastation that was occurring.
years this man worked at becoming part of our family. We talked many times each day…via phone and email. He vacationed
a lot throughout the year, and even while he was on vacation, he would continue to call me. We shared much with his family,
and they with ours. They were around for birthday parties, family dinners, hospital stays, and many times – just because.
He had an amazing relationship with my husband. Our children loved him deeply, and
looked up to him like a grandfather.
He prayed with our two boys to ask Jesus into their hearts. He baptized our oldest son. He was deeply and intimately enmeshed
in our family, for years. Whatever was going on in our world, you didn’t have to look far to see him there being a part
I looked up to my Pastor, as a daughter would a father, and early on he made reference to me being like a daughter
to him. He called me his "daughter #2." I felt special to him, and he filled a rather empty place in my life…that
of a father. My husband trusted him 100%, never doubting that he would ever treat me inappropriately. He was given total and
complete access to our family, simply because of the trust that was placed in him, due to his position in the Church.
final year, in that stretch of four, was when the abuse began. A few times, he gave me a lingering hug, followed by a kiss
on the forehead. It startled me, and he asked if I was okay. He told me he "just loved me so much." I would have
enjoyed that affection from my own father, and wrote it off (at first), as a father/daughter need that he was meeting in my
life – and in fact, I felt a bit guilty that his embrace made me so nervous.
That thought only lasted a short
time. Not that long after, he confessed to me, that he had fallen deeply in love with me. He said that he had been in love
for about seven months, and had kept it to himself, not knowing if I would allow him access to me anymore if he told me how
he felt. Yet, without even asking what I was thinking, he simply said, "Can you love me in return?" He slid over
to me, looking me square in the eye, and said, "This has to be a secret. If you tell anyone, I’m ruined. My career
is on the line. My marriage is on the line. Tell nobody what happens between us when this door is shut! Promise me, right
here, right now!" The look in his eyes showed me he was deadly serious. I didn’t know what to do, or what to say.
I was confused. I didn’t know what he really meant, as he hadn’t done anything inappropriate up to this point.
So, naively, I agreed…not understanding what I was actually agreeing to. Had I known, I would have run right out the
Over the following year, I was this man’s toy…his puppet…the object of his lust. Whenever
I was near him, he would not keep his hands off me. If I said no, or tried to push him away, it did no good. Perhaps, just
the opposite…it gave him a challenge…and one he felt he must win. It was as if what I wanted, didn’t matter
at all. To share the details, would take hours. Condensed – he held nothing
back. He pursued me, daily. He pursued
me physically, emotionally, and sexually. He daydreamed and fantasized, and made each lustful thought his goal.
day that passed, his grip on me tightened, to the point that I felt I would never get away. I felt like I was dying. I had
nowhere to turn, nobody I could share with. He had done a terrific job of isolating me from everyone at the Church, and made
sure he had complete control over nearly every area of my life. I felt stuck!
The later portion of that last year was
the worst. He became jealous and possessive, and willingly admitted it. He would watch me, and if he saw me talking with other
men at Church, I would never hear the end of it. I was made to feel like I was betraying him by sharing friendships with other
men, and in the end, he told me, "No man wants to be your friend because you’re a nice girl. All they want is to
get into your panties – look at me! I’m your Pastor, and when I wanted you, I got you!" I felt like I had
We fought all the time. I didn’t want to go on. I kept telling him that I needed out. I couldn’t
do it anymore. The more I fought to get away, the tighter he held on. He said he would never let me go and that he "couldn’t
live without me."
The physical/sexual aggression was about as much as I could handle, and the final straw for
me came on a rainy day in late January. We had had another fight, and he said he was feeling bad. He wanted to meet and talk.
He came by to pick me up, and we drove to a local store parking lot. As soon as he turned the truck off, he was all over me.
I kept pushing him away – embarrassed by his aggression in a public place. He was pawing and pushing, and then he stopped.
I started to cry. I looked out the window, hoping to gain some composure. When I turned to look at him again, he had unzipped
his pants, and taken himself out. He just sat there with a smile, and told me to perform oral sex. I said no, and began to
cry even harder. He grabbed me by the back of the head, and pushed me down there. Somehow, I managed to push myself away,
and screamed at him to take me home. I think I startled him. He just shook his head at me, and said, "I thought you loved
me. If you loved me, you would want to please me." I was crushed, embarrassed, and done. A few weeks later, I told my
Initially, because of all the words the Pastor had spoken into my life, I was convinced that this
was my entire fault. I took 100% responsibility/blame. I had no idea that this was considered abuse. My husband was the one
who told me I had been manipulated and abused. He said I might not understand it at first, but one day I would see it for
what it really was – abuse.
I had never heard of Pastoral (or Clergy) Sexual Abuse. From time to time, one hears
of a child being abused by a Catholic Priest – but a grown woman! It was hard to take in. I thought I was totally alone.
I had myself convinced that I was the only one, and that if I told, nobody would believe me. I fell apart. I couldn’t
eat, or if I did, I got sick. I couldn’t sleep, and if I managed to, I had horrible nightmares that would leave me screaming
in my sleep. During the day, I was having severe flashbacks and panic attacks, that would just take me out. I was pretty much
non-functional, and would learn later (in counseling) that I was suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)…a
common occurrence after an abusive situation.
I found an amazing counselor. I read every book and article I could find
on CSA. I found other survivors, so I knew I wasn’t alone. I determined that I was going to be okay. In time, I knew,
without a doubt that what had happened was not my fault. I had been targeted, groomed, manipulated, and abused by a man that
used his position in the Church to his advantage. As the layers of this unfolded, I learned that I was not the only one he
had done this to. In fact, he told me about one of the women, himself. In talking to others, as my story began coming out,
there was evidence brought to me, that this has been going on for years. His wife even knew, and didn’t say a word.
Painful… Betrayed… Devastated… But, hopeful… Today, 18 months later, I am free! I stand
on the truth. What happened to me, hurt deeply. But, I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor! He has no hold on me. The control
he once had, is gone. The secret, he once forced me to keep, I keep no longer. So, if you are reading this, and you’re
stuck and scared – know that there is hope. You are not alone. There are others out there, who understand everything
you are going through. Don’t give up! Reach out! Learn the truth of your situation, and then stand on that truth. The
truth WILL set you free!!
I am totally willing to come along side you, and be a support as you go through your journey.
As I traveled the path of my own healing, having someone I could
turn to – who had been there and understood
completely – was HUGE!! I’ve been there. I will help you as best I can. I know it is scary, but you don’t
have to walk this alone. There is hope… There can be a positive ending, you just have to reach out for it. Hang in