I can't go into the details of my experience at this moment, but I can say with confidence that THOS was absolutely vital in helping me break free of the chains of an abusive "pastor". I was under his control from the age of 19 for almost 7 years. I endured the worst of the abuse in the last 3 of that, but I am SO thankful for THOS. It helped me fully realize that what I experienced was in fact abuse and nothing less. The peer counselor provided to me by them and the amazing resources on the website were and continue to be invaluable to me as I continue to heal from this experience. Thank you THOS for doing what you do. You were pivotal in my rescue from abuse.
The Hope of Survivors has contributed to the healing of thousands of women and men who were victims of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct. Many of these survivors have become advocates and leaders themselves. THOS has done this for me: they helped me heal from the most traumatic experience of my life, and helped me embark on my own ministry to survivors. I owe Samantha and Steve Nelson more thanks than I can express.
I can personally say that this ministry called THOS, The Hope of Survivors, has helped many, many victims of abuse. Steve and Samantha Nelson are two of the most loving, serving and dedicated people I know. May God bless you both.
I was referred to HOS by a friend. I spoke with one of the counselors who gave the website information. I was impressed that organization was international. I also communicated with a counselor who personally told me about the resources the organization offers for survivors. The volunteer was not judgmental and could relate to my story. I felt understood and relief about something so secret and painful in my life. I was afraid I would be dealing with fake christian people. Having been through severe spiritual abuse I told her I have a hatred for Christians and the church itself. She understood. I explained my story of sexual abuse and the same pastor had a sexual affair with my mother and other women of the church. The counselor helped me to understand the mindset of a predator, narcissist who preyed on me as a teenager and made sexual moves at me when I became a legal adult. So much of my guilt was false and nothing was my fault. My parents did not help me. So I had to help myself. I am grateful this organization helped save my life.
Hope of survivor's website helped me when there was no one to turn to for help. I was confused and lost in my situation. I received clarity and wisdom after reading the material on the website. Being able to understand what had happened to my family and I helped us to begging the healing process almost five years ago.
THOS saved my marriage and my life. The personal care and truth received by this organization helped my husband and I to finally walk through everything that happened during the abuse. We finally understand one another better within our own pain and walls. I do not feel anyone would be better equipped to do what Samantha and Steve Nelson do within this ministry.
I was referred to the The Hope of Survivors by a friend right after I came out of the hospital. I had just tried to kill myself due to being kicked out of the church because my pastor was wanting to have sex with me. I took the fall for it all. The pain and shame was unbareable. I began reading the website and learning that my story was almost the same as other women's story. I learned why I felt the need to end my life, why I felt I should protect the pastor at all cost to myself, I learned how I was groomed for this relationship, and that I needed forgiveness of my sin. I no longer today carry that load of guilt and the words of the survivors and their support brought me through the hardest time of my life. I can truly testify to the fact this group saved my life! I am forever grateful!
Thank-you so much for your help and support to our family thus far, we really appreciate your very quick response to our email thanks so much. May God bless this ministry in a might way.
Steve and Samantha reach out to help victims of clergy sexual abuse through their organization The Hope of Survivors. They are a loving, caring couple who were victims of clergy abuse and have dedicated their ministry to assisting other victims in recovery from clergy abuse. They are professional in their presentations and can be very helpful to congregations to be proactive against clergy abuse as well as helping victims.
The Iowa-Missouri Conference is pleased to have The Hope of Survivors ministry located within our conference territory. Steve and Samantha are an exceptional ministerial couple that have been a blessing to the members and pastoral families within our conference. Their ministry is timely and life changing especially for those who have been victims of pastoral abuse. The quality of training and education they deliver is such that they are in demand as speakers nationally and internationally. Join me in praying for God's continued blessing upon their unique ministry.
From victim to volunteer! People from all over the world are having to turn to this vital organisation for help, because there is so little support for them locally. The Hope of Survivors is the only understanding and hope offered for some victims. We will never know how many people are not victims because of the work they do in educating Churches. I look forward to being a small part of making THOS known about and helping victims all over the world.
After my relationship with my pastor had gone from professional to personal I came across THOS website. The things I read on there were so helpful I can not begin to describe it. The things I read were so accurate and after reading them I was able to really absorb what was happening to me. I was able to show the site to close friends, then my husband and my church leaders. I am in no doubt that without the help of THOS I would never have exposed what was happening to me, my husband would have struggled to gain any understanding and my friends would not have had enough knowledge to support me and my family. A predator has been removed from ministry largely because of the work of THOS. The work they do is absolutely critical and there are so few organisations out there in the world that can really help like they have myself and so many others. I am in the UK and still they were able to reach out to me from the USA.
This organization is utterly unique in its purpose and so responsive to the people it serves. They do everything possible both to help survivors and to create systematic change. If you email them, even with a rambling email about what you've been through, a real person responds within 12 hours. They make you feel like a person. Even when I donate, I get a personalized email from the founder asking about my family and how I'm doing. They are ambitious in their dreams, creating a new recovery center that I wish had been there when I was suffering. Every year they help anonymous thousands. I cannot recommend them enough.
When I emailed the co-founder of The Hope of Survivors, she called me and prayed with me and listened to my story. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a pastor. I found the HOPE of SURVIVORS website when I was doing research for my screenplay about a survivor of clergy abuse and I am so grateful for the helpful articles, videos and booklets The Hope of Survivors provide on their website. I look forward to attending their retreat in Iowa and working with them to help survivors of clergy abuse around the world.
Early in my journey as a survivor I went to the Hope and Healing workshop in Indianapolis and Omaha. Those were life-changing experiences. It was a blessing just to be in a room with other survivors of clergy sexual misconduct. Now, with significant healing, I still stay in touch with THOS. I appreciate the helpful articles on the THOS website and facebook page. I'm very excited that they now offer retreats at a beautiful, safe location -- I know that will make a life-changing difference to many survivors.
Because I filed a complaint against a pastor who crossed sexual boundaries, I experienced not only the trauma of abuse, but the trauma of isolation and loss of community when my church community shut me out. Like most survivors, I felt completely alone and utterly helpless. When I went to the Hope of Survivors' 2011 "Hope & Healing" conference, I found myself in a room full of people who understood my experience. I heard over and over, from every speaker, "This was NOT YOUR FAULT." I can't begin to describe how helpful this was! Over the next year, as that truth sank in, genuine healing happened -- and when I went to the 2012 conference, I could feel how much stronger I was.
I hope I never have to recommend The Hope of Survivors to a friend -- I hope no friend of mine ever goes through what I went through. But I would recommend it to any victim or survivor of clergy sexual abuse.
This is very hard to write a review but I would be deeply negligent not to write a review! I will just say I was frantic for help and information when I sent them an email. They responded immediately with acurate helpful compassionate information which made a huge difference in my life. I will be eternally grateful for this ministry.
I am a survivor of pastoral sexual abuse and a supporter of The Hope of Survivors. No such program existed when I was a young married woman who needed counseling for marital difficulties. I told my fatherly Godly pastor that I wanted to talk to a psychologist but he insisted that I talk only with him. I had no understanding of the grooming and manipulation and sexual abuse that I experienced from my God-representative pastor. I blamed myself and lived with a lifetime of emotional and relationship scars. When I was a middle-aged woman, I happened upon The Hope of Survivors and immediately made contact. As I read the materials, the years of pain poured out in nearly uncontrollable sobs. Meeting Samantha and experiencing her loving personal approach and understanding was a very healing experience. If just one woman can be helped and protected from a predator pastor, my financial support will be worth everything I give but there are so many who need help and so many leaders who need to be educated.
I was greatly embarrased by a pastor through him asking me intimate questions of a sexual nature, when i was on my own with him in a bible lesson when i was 16. Years later i e-mailed with The Hope Of Survivors, just to deal with this issue. Each of my e-mails were always answered immediately. I never had to wait. They were very, very helpfull to me. mustakallio
Thank you very much for sharing!
I'm a survivor in a very concrete sense of the word: after being sexually assaulted, I attempted suicide. I continued in a severe, often suicidal depression that lasted over a year. My family and friends ostracized me quite a bit through this period, and so often I had literally no one I could talk to -- except for one person at the Hope of Survivors, who would sit on the phone with me sometimes for hours. He talked me through some of my darkest moments -- talked and listened, of course. The Hope of Survivors was one of a very few factors that prevented me, I think, from killing myself. This organization helped save my life.
The Hope of Survivors is particularly special because I believe it's the only one of its kind: advocacy and support for adults who have been abused by a religious leader. Being assaulted within the context of one's own religious community is an experience that requires a specific type of support. They are specialists in dealing with cases that combine religion and sexual abuse of adults. This is a unique set of expertise.
The Hope of Survivors reached out with an incredible amount of time, patience, and understanding when a clergy member in a mainline Protestant denomination violated pastor-parishioner boundaries with me. THOS stayed in close contact with me during an eight-month, painful disciplinary process that traumatized me more than the original alleged sexual misconduct. THOS's counselors were available, seemingly 24 hours a day -- I'd call, distraught, sometimes on weekends or at night, and always received a prompt response. They donated many hours of their time on the phone with me. They reviewed my case, wrote an endorsement letter for the church authorities, and defended me publicly against people who belittled me and other survivors of clergy sexual exploitation when the case went to the newspaper. What is special about THOS is that its leadership really understands something of the subjective, psychological experience of an adult parishioner whose boundaries are violated by a pastor. That understanding allows them to do a very specific and unique kind of counselling. As such, it is a one-of-a-kind non-profit. Surviving my case was a very tough ordeal, but THOS made it easier because its staff were very genuinely dedicated to helping me through it.
It was August 2013 while I was counseling a young lady who was being groomed by her pastor that I realized the same words that were being said to this young lady were the same words that were once said to me by a young pastor in the late 90’s. It was then, that I realized the burden that I had been carrying all these years because one pastor decided to beguile me into believing God chose me for this pastor. After falling with this pastor, he turned tables on me and telling me that I was a sinner and not fit to marry him. Thankfully, I had forgiven him since because I thought I was in the wrong, but it was August 2013 and after speaking with Samantha that I understood what really happened to me and why I felt unworthy of God’s forgiveness. Since, I chose to forgive the so-called “pastor” for being a predator pastor and I asked God to forgive me for being so hard on myself. It was The Hope Of Survivors that helped me on several issues and I am thankful. So, thankful that I am now a volunteer for The Hope Of Survivors.
The Hope of Survivors is what many consider a Dove ministry. Most recovery ministries will usually fall into three categories. First there is the Lion recovery group where the ministers trying to help actually end up roaring accusation at all who are involved. They swing wide the church doors to show the sin of the clergy or the weakness of the wounded to all who will listen. With their lion-like jaws and claws of so-called justice, they rip everyone and everything to shreds.
Second is the Ostrich ministry group, which works in the absence of the light of truth or even finding out the truth. They have only one objective; they try to keep everything quiet. The let’s don’t rock the boat crew. This group is the one that will do all to protect the offender but very little for the offended, not realizing that burying their heads in the sand will not cover up sin.
The third group is the Hope of Survivors. The Hope of Survivors is a Spirit led Dove Ministry, one willing to pour in the oil and the wine. They get the facts and make sure the facts are real. Then they confront all parties without ripping and tearing like a lion or trying to appease those in authority. For the sake of the survivor, they refuse to bury their heads in the sand like an ostrich and pretend it did not happen.
A survivor is someone who has endured with power. The Hope of Survivors is a Dove ministry that gives the mistreated and wounded that power from on high.
Pastor Hal Steenson
West Frankfort, IL.
I am a former board member, a pastor closely associated with the Nelsons, and a supporter of "Hope of Survivors." I have watched this ministry from its infancy and am so pleased to see it grow to an international resource for clergy and parishioners alike. Steve and Samantha have worked so hard, without any personal benefit other than restoring broken lives. Born out of their own pain and struggles this has become a truly healing ministry.
As a pastor for over 37 years I have seen more times than I want to recall the tragedy of clergy abuse. I have also known Steve and Samantha for several years and am well aware of the countless lives they have touched with this ministry. As they serve from experience they also serve with tremendous skill, sensitivity, and professionalism. Too many churches and organizations are reluctant to address this problem and as a result many lives have been severely damaged. Hope of /Survivors can not only help victims, but can also effectively help pastors and church administrators avoid the problem before it starts. THOS is a powerful tool across denominational lines.
Review from Guidestar
This is one of the best nonprofit organizations in the world. The cause they are combatting is so prevelent but is so hidden and disguised that it makes their job that much more difficult. There should be an award given for the kindness and acceptance that is shown to each victim by each and every volunteer. I was given the pleasure of meeting them and counseling with them in 2010 and my life will forever be changed and blessed by the healing that came from their counsel.
I was personally helped by The Hope of Survivors after being a victim of abuse in my teens. After their loving guidance and counsel, I have now served as executive assistant for over a year.
The work that this organization is extremely critical and important. The victims that they counsel on a daily basis have been through hardships and trials that no one else understands. THOS offers free counseling for anyone who needs it. No one is ever turned away. Their expertise in the field is backed by years of experience, with many volunteers being victims themselves.
It has been an extreme privelege to work with The Hope of Survivors on a personal and volunteer level.
Review from Guidestar