I recently found out that the week my abuse was discovered & labeled an inappropriate relationship, my Sr. Pastor admitted to fellow staff members that my abuser, the Executive pastor, had abused his power and I was a victim. Only they didn't tell me that. They let me believe I had failed. They victim-blamed and sinned-leveled.
They, knowing it was abuse, called me out by name to the congregation on a Sunday morning as resigning my job due to an inappropriate relationship with that pastor. They then sent a letter to the body. As my husband and I learned the truth about clergy sexual abuse, we sent many emails attempting to explain, educate, correct the narrative about me and to plead for them to make that church safe.
In the beginning, they got an attorney and presented me with a NDA to "protect me" because "they loved me so much." I fought for my right to share my testimony and won. Sort of. I can talk, but they are hiding behind the specific language they assigned to themselves.
A year later, in one of our meetings, I asked them how this church attorney didn't know from the beginning that this was clergy sexual abuse and my abuser had abused his power. The Sr. Pastor & an elder looked me in the eye and immediately admitted they knew from the beginning it was abuse. WHILE THEY PUSHED A NDA ON ME AND PUBLICALLY CALLED ME AN ADULTRESS, THEY KNEW IT WAS ABUSE!
My husband was so frustrated, he emailed the truth to some in the church body. This made the elders so angry, they emailed the entire church body against me again. This is the first sentence of that email: "Headlines from a variety of media remind us daily of the importance of maintaining proper boundaries in interpersonal relationships in any workplace, including the workplace of the Church."
Two sentences later: "Rest assured that church leadership addressed the issue sensitively, forthrightly, and in a spirit of transparency and Christian forgiveness. Since both parties confessed their participation in the misconduct, our goal at the time and since then has been to graciously promote reconciliation and restoration in their marriages and to the church body as a whole. The recent e-mail that went out from the spouse of one of those involved to many in the (church name) family was an effort to reopen these wounds and we believe it was grossly unfair and factually incorrect which works at cross-purposes to the healing process of all involved and is damaging to the testimony of Christ in the Church and in the community."
They called our pursuit of truth, which they already knew, "damaging to the testimony of Christ in the Church and in the community." Liars said this about the only person who took responsibility that wasn't mine, apologized for it, learned the truth, spoke the truth and begged for the safety of the very people who turned away from me. They called ME damaging to the church.
I think this has been more traumatizing than the abuse was and it was awful. I walked into that church healthy, vibrant and a willing servant of Christ. I loved and served well, with all my heart. I was tortured by a pastor and then shamed by elders. I continue to trust God and speak truth. My heart is absolutely broken that these pastors I served and trusted turned out to be abusers, manipulators and liars.
And they so easily kept saying, "You know how much we love you."