The Hope of Survivors is not just an organisation. They are real people making a real difference in real peoples lives. They have helped me immensely through difficult times of abuse AND by pointing me to Jesus and showing me what a true relationship with him looks like. To God be the glory for the great things they are doing in so many lives!
The Hope of Survivors helped me to know that I was not alone. Before I found The Hope of Survivors website and Samantha, I felt like there was something wrong with me. I had been counseled following my abuse by a Christian counselor who presented what happened to me as me being a "weak sheep" and needing to become a strong person. This made me feel like the pastor preying on me was due to a flaw in me and that it was my fault somehow that he chose me to prey upon. The Hope of Survivors helped me to understand that what the pastor did was abuse and that it wasn't because I was weak and flawed, but that it was because HE was. I found a healing through Samantha's counsel. I would recommend the Hope of Survivors to anyone affected by this type of abuse. I found out that I was not alone in what I went through and that the pattern that my abuse followed was indeed a pattern that many pastors use to prey upon adult women in their congregations. I am thankful to this organization for the help that they provided to me and the work that they continue to do in so many people's lives.
When my pastor abused me, I blamed myself. I had no idea I was even being abused. When I mentioned what was happening to a friend, they searched the web and found The Hope of Survivors. These wonderful people gave me a way to frame what happened to me - in short, they provided education, gave me hope, and set me on the path to healing. They were with me every step of the way, like a trusted best friend. I wouldn't have been able to move on like I have without their help. The Hope of Survivors was and still is a godsend.
I had been victimized and had no where to turn; my UCC church family, for the most part, ignored my pleas for support, validation, and the truth. I lost so much: work, health, family, friends, and was re-victimized by anonymous church members who wrote letters to my home and to my work place accusing me of being something that I was not. I thought I was alone and had suffered through something unique. In my research, I was led to The Hope Of Survivors; it was there that I was given the healing words of validation and healing. Faceless strangers who assisted me from being a victim to a vocal victim advocate and survivor. With faith and support from THOS, I am able to actively tell my story in the hope of preventing the cycle of clergy abuse and professional misconduct. (www.thehopeofsurvivors.com)
I was at my wits end and boarding suicide until I decided to google what was happening to me only to realize there was a name for it. If it was not for the love, grace and mercy of God and the volunteers of this great organization I would be dead.
My wife and I founded a clergy sexual abuse website "PastorsWhoPrey.org" in 2001. After 5 years of running it and reaching out to many clergy sexual abuse survivors we decided to discontinue it. We have referred many survivors to the "Hope of Survivors" over the years. They do a great job educating and reaching out to those who are deeply hurting from the horrific clergy sexual abuse they have experienced. They also play an extremely important role in educating the general public on what clergy sexual abuse really is and encouraging the media to cover this very important subject. The more the spotlight shines on it, we will rejoice in seeing fewer survivors in the future.
The Hope of Survivors (THOS) has been extremely influential in my life. Samantha and her husband Steve have been so supportive of me. I first contacted Samantha in December 2005. I was trying to get out of an extremely violent and abusive relationship. I never told Samantha of the ongoing pastoral abuse in the beginning. Because at that time, and for a long while afterward, it was my dark secret and I believed was ALL my fault. The word “abuse” never entered my mind. I did not realize how desperately I needed help for that, as well as the violent relationship I was in at that time.
The pastor I was involved with came highly recommended to me by several family members, even one who had worked with him in the past. A few friends of mine who knew him, his wife and kids, personally, also recommended him to me. I went to him embarrassed to explain all I had been involved with over the years. But, I was desperate for help! By the third session, he had made sexual advancements toward me. Even though I was uncomfortable, I did tell him this was not what I came for. It still quickly ended up in a sexual relationship. He threatened me from day one what would happen to my family if they found out. He said no one would believe me—not a woman like me! He gave me many guilt trips of how I had ruined my mom’s marriages by having sexual relationships with my biological father and my adopted dad. I believed I was a tramp and I was getting what I deserved.
After getting to know Samantha, and her helping me work through my abusive relationship that was getting more violent by the day, she also began helping me deal with sexual abuse from my family growing up. I don't remember how we got on the subject of pastoral abuse. I think it was from her sharing her story with me early on that opened door for me to tell her about what was going on in my life. All of it! I remember her sending me a couple workbooks to work through. She sent me some CD's and ALWAYS remembered my birthday over the years, and has sent me several encouraging cards over the years. Which meant the world to me! I still have every card to this day. Samantha (THOS) DID this knowing I had no money to give them.
They’re so amazing! Not just Steve and Samantha, but their whole team! They all have prayed for me when I needed it. A year can go by where I don't stay in contact but I know if I need anything THOS is always there for me. They truly have become my family. I wish I had millions of dollars to give to THOS but I do not. All I can say is, if you choose THOS, you won't be sorry. Your money will be given to a cause worth giving to because THOS ALWAYS gives back to those in need. And let me tell you, there are many, many more woman and kids out there waiting to know that someone else has been through it and someone cares. But, more than that, that a cause like The Hope of Survivors will step up, step out, and take action! I know—they've done this for me many times!
My wife was sexually exploited by our pastor while seeking counseling for depression and anxiety. Over the years he had positioned himself as a close friend and kept me as an insider. However, our relationship was usually strained and confusing as he would take advantage of me and several close friends in a variety of situations.
After a failed attempt at suicide, I finally I began to dig. While our pastor had been counseling me to not ask questions concerning her worsening depression, claiming that much of it was due to my "neediness," I finally found evidence of him speaking to her in an inappropriate tone online. In way that could be taken as the playful joking of close friends, but my spirit knew better. I asked her the right question, and our world fell apart.
There is not room here to properly tell the story of how this unfolded. The aggression. The manipulation. The denial. The loss of friends. How our church nearly died. How it is still limping a year later. How the friendships that did survive were horribly wounded, changed forever.
Not to mention, we were the lucky ones. Most predators in the powerful position of spiritual authority are not held accountable. The sensitive issue or sexual abuse makes it more than difficult for anyone to know what to do. The work of The Hope of Survivors, Baylor University, and the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institute at St. John's Abbey and University can help educate churches and congregant and prepare them for these situations. Without them, I do not know what we would have done. We were lucky that our elders had the integrity to stand up for us whatever it cost.
Many churches feel powerless and are afraid of what it would cost to stand up to abusers who stand behind the pulpit each week. The Hope of Survivors is one of the (very, very) few resources available to them. They offered us help and asked nothing in return.
Just to clarify, The Hope of Survivors works with victims and church leaders of all denominations. The fact that the founders are Seventh-day Adventists, as are many of the board members, should be a non-issue, as The Hope of Survivors is not about a denomination or set of beliefs. Many of The Hope of Survivors' volunteers are not Seventh-day Adventists, but are from many other denominations, and our board of directors is looking for qualified Christian individuals of other faiths to participate. We are Christians providing a service to those of any religious faith who are in need. THOS is about providing Biblical counsel, support and materials to victims and church leaders. We reference many other denominational websites on our Resources page--from Methodist to Orthodox and many other religions/denominations in between. We have worked with Buddhists and Muslims as well. While we may include quotes from Adventist authors on our website (we include quotes from other denominational leaders too) and in our materials, these quotes are Biblical and only lend credibility to the seriousness of the issue of clergy sexual abuse and provide encouraging and comforting words to victims.
Review from Guidestar
We cannot survive without attachments. In a time of need, I turned to a professional, someone I had been taught in my childhood to be a representative of God. I developed an attachment to him. He told me there was no reason not to trust him. It turned out there were good reasons not to trust him the way I am meant to trust God.
I cannot imagine anyone going through an experience like mine without a resource like Hope of Survivors. They believed me.
Review from Guidestar
There is a great lack of resources in the area of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct. I was fortunate to find THOS by seaching the internet, and was personally helped by the caring concern and biblical counsel available. There is truly no other organization to my knowledge that provides this personal counseling approach to such a specific and poorly understood area of abuse, and it certainly was a breakthrough moment in my healing from being abused by my pastor. The written materials and information on the web site were also very useful.
One of the reasons this organization is so important and effective, is the personal experience of the founders and many of the volunteers. When someone can not only understand objectively what you've been through, but also related and understand through the lens of personal experience, it really makes a difference and provides much needed support and the foundation for trust and honest disclosure for the victim.
Review from Guidestar
I came across this website while I was searching for information about clergy sexual misconduct. The information found on their website and contact by email was crucial in helping me understand the signs of what I was starting to suspect that my now former pastor was trying to do. Because of the information I received, I was able to tell my husband of the pastor's behavior around me and our daughter also confided in us that he had acted inappropriately with her as well. We were able to leave the situation before anything more damaging was done.
Review from Guidestar