In 2017, I would walk this park every night after work & try to deal with the stress of torture from my boss that day. I stood in this area shaking my fist to heaven in tears & begged God for help. I told Him I was in trouble I couldn’t handle & asked Him to rescue me.
He didn’t answer for another 8 months. It was on one of these walks that Satan convinced me that I was unlovable & even God only loved me because He had to. My heart tonight remembers that pain. It’s a bit triggering to remember.
Tonight is different. I know I’m loved. I’m free. Nobody loves me like You, God. I truly believe Jesus was praying for me just as He prayed for Peter when Satan sifted him. It’s all going to work out according to Your glory. I’m trusting You even though I don’t understand Your ways.
I’ve been thinking through all the conversations I’ve had with women who were groomed into what was sexual abuse by their pastor.
1. The grooming lasted for months, even years.
2. Every single woman told me they resisted, said no, called out the behavior in the beginning.
3. The women all had a level of fear of the pastor. Said he had bullying characteristics.
4. The pastor ignored their lack of consent, relentlessly persisted and pushed boundaries until they got compliance. Compliance is NOT consent. It became survival for the victim.
5. We, the women, had something going on that made us emotionally vulnerable. That does not make the abuse our fault. Everyone is vulnerable at some point. Pastors should always point to Christ and to therapy if needed, not seize the opportunity to abuse their power.
6. The abuse wasn’t about sexual activity. That was the trap into emotional and spiritual abuse. Torture for the pastor’s entertainment. The target is nothing but a challenge.
7. The pastor convinced the woman that the sexual activity was her fault. Upon discovery, she typically took the responsibility only to learn later that it was not an affair but it was sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse.
8. In almost every case, it cost the victim everything. All sympathy and support went to the abusive pastor.
9. In every case, the church elders blew it. They protected themselves, the abuser and the church image at the expense of the victim.
10. The congregation, the bystanders, didn’t support the victim out of ignorance, fear, or having been gaslighted by church leaders and didn’t know the truth. Many later learned the truth, but couldn’t handle it. Weren’t willing to do the uncomfortable thing and speak up.
11. These women are strong, brave and articulate. They’ve survived being led through hell by a wolf in shepherd’s clothing. They’re fighting like hell to heal. Many are also still fighting for truth & justice in their churches & denominations.
12. Even though wounded, they’re on the front lines fighting for truth, justice and safety because the church leaders, congregations and Christian influencers are silent about the fact that the vast majority of sexual abusers in the church are the pastors and evangelists.
It's not that I dislike pastors and evangelists. I dislike wolves pretending to be pastors and evangelists. It's not that I dislike church. I dislike abusive systems pretending to be a church.
But I am angry with pastors. Why? Because any true pastor that loves the Lord's sheep, couldn't possibly see all of the wolves pretending to be pastors sexually abusing the sheep and not be outraged. Jesus left the 99 for the one. True pastors would be as righteously angry as Jesus was when he turned tables in the temple. And yet, so very few even mention it, let alone scream about it to stop and protect the victims.
Instead, I see other pastors and church leaders downplay abuse by these pretending pastors and even protect them by covering it up, by their silence, by moving the wolf to another church, by slandering or silencing victims, by expelling victims, by calling truth gossip, by calling the pursuit of justice bitterness and unforgiveness and by telling victims to just forgive and move on.
It's simple, the sexual abuse of children and adults by wolves calling themselves pastors will not stop until the true pastors and congregations move to stop it. Why do pastors and congregations continue to let these wolves have the power to sexually abuse children & adults? How are they not sick about it, outraged? Grown, adult men calling themselves pastors are raping children, teens & adults and getting away with it. I can't be a part of that system and love Jesus.
How can you, as a pastor, look the other way, especially when it happened in your church or community? Who or what do you worship? I can't worship Jesus and not be sick about sexual abuse in His church. Are you like my own former church leaders that are fine with people leaving their church if they don't agree with you, if they want to hold you accountable to your position, if they want church to be safe for everyone, if they aren't afraid of and know God works in truth, if they don't worship the ground you walk on? Then, all that's left are those who do worship you, think like you, cower to you?
"He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them." John 10
__signed A Victim of Clergy Sexual Abuse who is tired of fighting abusive wolves when I should be focused on healing and feel safe in church.
Because church is so triggering still and because there’s too much denial about wolves fleecing the flock, I just can’t be a part. So, I work out my faith in God and Jesus absent from corporate worship. It should break Christian’s hearts that I don’t feel safe in church, but instead of asking questions to understand, they judge. It’s unfortunate.
But I love Jesus. I think about Him constantly. I don’t understand why He chose to free me from the torture of a pastor in such a painful way, but I trust Him. God chose a painful way for Christ to conquer sin and death. I grasp that sometimes He allows pain for His cause. It’s just that often I spend more time trying to make sense out of “why me?” than just moving forward in the freedom. I know He loves me but I still struggle with the shame a pastor put on me abusing my trust.
He’s let me see that He never left me even though I thought He had. He’s let me see that He is using my experience and my story for good. I pray He lets me see the miracle of justice. But I know that my healing doesn’t rely on apologies and justice. My abuser has no power over me or my healing. I’ve left him in God’s capable hands. My healing comes from God and my own work.
But I want healing for the church, too. It’s sick and in denial which leads to death. That’s tragic. To die because of arrogance and denial. Because, even though you preach accountability and truth, you can’t bring yourself to live it. I’m in the light now. Trust me! That’s where the healing is. God brought me through the darkness into truth and freedom. He will do the same for His church.
Today I celebrate my freedom in Christ. I now completely understand that freedom is not free. But if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed. I will never hand my freedom over to anyone or any church. Have you given your power & freedom in Christ away to a pastor/church?