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.