Like many people who contact the Hope of Survivors, I too was a victim of spiritual abuse and clergy sexual abuse. When the abuse was first discovered, I was blamed for seducing the pastor into having an affair. I was so confused because I had gone to him for counseling, not an affair. I felt like the church had set me up to fail and offered no support for someone in my situation. Even worse, I began doubting myself, feeling like I was losing my sense of reality and feeling like God was angry with me. Thank goodness there is a resource out there that can explain clergy sexual abuse so effectively and help victims heal from this type of trauma. I have personally contacted a representative from the Hope of Survivors, and she was so supportive in a beautiful, non-judgemental way! If it wasn't for this organization, I don't know what I would have done. The Hope of Survivors is a much-needed outreach for those who have been hurt by the church and who need to know there is a compassionate God who is for them!
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.
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.
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
I had previous knowledge of Hope of Survivors through a Pastor's Convention we had gone through. Few months later I was having a lot of family troubles with my abusive Dad, a previously fired minister. I decided to contact Hope of Survivors. I emailed and explained that my case involved no sexual abuse, however I was being emotionally abused and stalked along with my husband by my Dad.
Shortly after a volunteer attorney contacted me and helped represent me in court with restraining orders against my Dad. That was early last year. Our attorney was so attentive, he sounded more like a counselor, psychologist to me, and helped me deal and process with those issues almost better than any counselor had done for me before, in the sense of helping me put boundaries once and for all. Ever since, my Dad has left us alone, finally! Even my husband's boss is not getting harassed by Dad anymore! Yes I had to grieve the loss of relationship which was extremely hard, but I finally have peace and am not suffering from constant depression anymore. I am actually a much happier person around my husband and children.
I want to thank Hope of Survivors for coming immediately to my aid.
I have since recommended other cases, that I have come in contact with, to them, and in a short period of time, I will get a confirmation email that they have contacted the referrals and that they are currently hands-on the situation. That is always a great relief!
They are supporting and helping so many people heal from abuse and torment. They need all our help and support so that they can continue with this magnificent ministry!
Thank you Hope of Survivors!!!!!
Hope of Survivors delivered me out of pastoral sexual abuse last year. They provided my family, friends, and myself with invaluable counseling and helpful materials. I was being abused for over 10 years by my pastor of a small independent church that had all power and no accountability over our little flock. Hope of Survivors helped me to see the truth, expose the truth of what was going on, and set me free from this horrible abuse. My husband and I went to a wonderful seminar last August that was so informative - giving us even legal counsel for the harassment we were receiving also.
I will always be so thankful for the courage, wisdom, and support that they have given to my life even to this day. This ministry has truly been life-changing for me and my family. All abuse is terrible but when a trusted pastor abuses a little sheep he is supposed to protect - it is so wicked. I do not know where I would be without Hope of Survivors. I have been set free due to their ministry!
The Hope of Survivors has helped my tremendously through their articles, testimonials and most of all through Samantha's prompt attention to my initial letter and her counseling. I am so glad I found THOS as I am a survivor of abuse at the hands of clergy. THOS has been life changing!
Samantha is very prompt when responding to contact. They are genuine, warm, hospitable, and ever dedicated to this ministry. I appreciate how very knowledgeable they are in the subject of clergy sexual abuse and committed to providing quality reference material both in print and online, through social media, and in conferences they present. They increased my awareness; I now know that this does not only happen in my church, but in every church, not to mention the secular realm. It is a human problem; and they are advocating to rectify the situation. My experience with them has been only positive.
The Hope of Survivors educated me and others I knew about clergy sexual abuse. As a young woman, this has made me much more careful in my interactions with men in authority over me. I am not paranoid, but more aware of the dynamics which can come into play. They taught me that this kind of abuse of power and social standing does not only happen in my church, as I might first have thought, but in every church, not to mention other social settings, such as in businesses and schools. This knowledge helped preserve my faith in my church and our beliefs.
Steve and Samantha, the founders, are personal, caring, and wise in their care of victims and others affected. It always amazes me how quickly Samantha responds to email requests, and I have heard others report the same. I first came into contact with them after sexual abuse incidents left a spiritual leader disfellowshipped from our church, displaced in his career, and in legal trouble. They supported everyone involved, encouraging our church to respond Biblically to the crisis, and seeing us through the entire trying process to the end. Thank you to all the volunteers at The Hope of Survivors! We remain grateful for your invaluable support.