My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Hope of Survivors, Sonoma, CA, USA
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.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
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. See full story in the review.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
I would make more effort to present an ecumenical, interdenominational (or perhaps interfaith) face. While working with churches of all denominations (and even some clients who are not Christians at all), the roots in Seventh Day Adventism is often an obstacle for those who do know much about it. It wasn't for us, but I have seen it affect others. The people involved do nothing to create this obstacle, but the language and resources are often heavy with Adventist language and references.
How would you describe the help you got from this organization?
How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?
How do you feel you were treated by this organization?
How did you find this group?
What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?
To be educated and empowered to overcome my vulnerabilities. It has also encouraged my compassion towards abuse victims of all types.
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
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.