by Velour/MtnShepherdess ©
Resource: Hope For Survivors, for those sexually abused by clergy (including adults)
Kim R., a married woman and former ministry leader who was sexually preyed upon by her pastor (whom had preyed upon other vulnerable women too), attempted suicide in order to escape the abuse and the pain she was in from her pastor’s preying upon her. After being hospitalized in an in-patient program and receiving professional help from non-Christian counselors, she was strong enough to stand up to this abusive clergy member. Kim also reported that several other pastors at her ex-church had sexual relationships with women church members whom they too had preyed upon.
Many states are now criminalizing sexual conduct between clergy and members, like other professions (therapy, medicine, law, and teaching) because of undue influence over victims and the resulting damage.
Kim’s story was recently covered on The Wartburg Watch and her powerful, painful video is posted there: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/10/03/its-clergy-sex-abuse-not-an-affair/
There are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed and professional boundaries should be maintained at all times. Kim told me in hindsight that one of the things that she would never do again, that is quite dangerous, is Nouthetic Counseling (“Biblical Counseling” by an unlicensed and untrained pastor. These were the first boundaries to be crossed. My former church, Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley, also practices this destructive form of counseling by unlicensed and untrained pastors/elders. GBFSV members, including me, were required to see pastors/elders for whatever they wanted to call us in about. They gave extremely incompetent and dangerous advice. And they were insufferable to listen to. They got major problems wrong. They used Scripture verses to treat a woman alcoholic and all of the problems that she caused at church. She should have been under the professional care of a physician and in a treatment program for alcoholics. Many serious problems that required outside, professional, licensed help were not referred at the GBFSV pastors/elders did a lot of damage.)
Kim R.’s advice in hindsight:
“1. Find out what the pastoral turn over is. My church was every 5 years.
2. A church that has to have the children sit with the parents because no one wanted to help in that ministry. If it is an unhealthy church the ministries will be unhealthy.
3. If Leaders on first meetings start blaming the people for all the mess it is a unhealthy environment. An organization mimics the leadership not the other way around.
4. If a pastor tells you that because of your encouragement, service, and words you have helped him stay I ministry, run. He should be there because of his commitment to his calling.
5. If a pastor encourages or allows those he leads to work until exhaustion and doesn’t shepherd in a way that encourages their families it is an abusive church. My pastor argued with me when I cried out in exhaustion. He said that I was going against God’s will for my life. Run and take care of yourself.
6. Never as a woman, trust a pastor with anything you wouldn’t trust a man at work, social circles, etc. If He hadn’t been a pastor he would not have ever had access to my heart over my trauma and brokenness. I always had those boundaries with the men in my life.
7. My church had me write my thoughts down as a female worship leader to have the men on the platform to read until my 6th year of leading. I was told to be submissive to those men placed to watch out for my soul and to not cross unbiblical lines of male leadership. I tried to obey this. Never go to a male leadership dominated church.
8. A pastor should never share his counseling confidences with you as his special support with his “difficult job” of shepherd. You are not helping, you are abetting an unethical counselor.
9. A pastor should never place a female congregant in the role to keep him from leaving ministry. He thanked me all the time because he just couldn’t handle the role without my help. Just let him go. I thought God was using me to help his leader.
10. If you have found yourself to have trusted to a dangerous level and gone over boundaries your pastor encouraged don’t be afraid to get help to break the emotional dependency from a licensed counselor. You will need support to break the attachment. Once you are ready, expose the wolf. If I could have done that years earlier it wouldn’t have ever gotten as far as it did.
11. You need to speak up if this has happened to you. You are not alone and are not to blame. But if we keep quiet, we will be inadvertently allowing another victim we could have saved. It is a bold move and I wouldn’t suggest it without intense therapy and some time to heal, but speak out and block all the voices but “The Voice of Truth”. Casting Crowns sings this amazing song of truth.
12. If you can help get laws on the books, join with the victims and help. I could go on and on but this is where I will leave it. My prayer is for church to someday be the light, salt, spiritual encouragement it is meant to be. May God bless all who hear the truth in the clutter.”