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Review for Hope of Survivors, Sonoma, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

My story is not as dramatic as many others which have come through Hope of Survivors. But having been on the edge of a similar event, I can relate to those who Hope of Survivors has helped.

When I was just out of graduate school, I married a young lady whose parents were what I think of as "hyper-fundamentalists," people for whom their religious system was all-important, even more so than anyone with whom they were in contact. The mother in this family believed that everyone she knew should be a worker in God's kingdom, so devoted that they should become full-time ordained ministers in the denominations she determined were "selected by God." My brother-in-law actually did become a minister, in a couple of denominations selected by my mother-in-law, and, as he put it, "The voice of God only came through my mother.!" He wasn't terribly successful as a minister and he is now a customer service representative for a large chain-store.

It turned out that my in-laws were devotees of Bill Gothard's Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts, and along with my then-fiancee, I was forced to attend. It was very strange, since Gothard's teachings designated the man as the absolute head of the household, and the woman was to be subservient to him. My mother-in-law said that that was the only part of Gothard's teaching she didn't agree with.

My mother-in-law tried to force me to become a minister also, offering to pay up to half of my wife's and my living if I did. But I refused to do that since I did not feel I had anything even resembling a call to the ministry. My mother-in-law started actively campaigning against me by constantly telling my wife that I was not a Christian, and that I would desert her in the future. This abuse took an emotional toll on me, and I tried to reconcile with my mother-in-law, but she would not have that and continued her criticism and denigration to my wife. When I suffered a nervous breakdown because of the mental abuse, my mother-in-law forced my wife to divorce me and it left me almost completely unable to function as a human.

There was a couple my parents knew who understood what had happened to me, They were a college religion professor and his wife, and they were compassionate and active in helping the people they knew. I was fortunate enough to be under their ministry, and was able to recover and regain my ability to function.

Sometime after this, I ran across Hope of Survivors, and learned that Hope of Survivors was helping people by accomplishing the same mission that my benefactors had accomplished with me. Hearing the stories of people that Hope of Survivors has been able to help impressed me and led me to make them a ministry that I support. To know that there is a resource that can help victims of religious and clergy abuse has made it possible for me to stay in the community of faith, and I support their ministry as much as I can.

Role:  General Member of the Public